Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

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SpiteFence
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Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:02 pm

I wanted to create this thread to share some things I thought were helpful in OCI that were either not mentioned by anyone or were under emphasized. I would really like to hear what worked for others as well. I was not extraordinarily successful during OCI, but I am employed and did much better than others in my situation. I'm at a T25, somewhere between Top 1/3 and 1/4, secondary journal, internships but no full time WE, and was a RA my 1L summer. I would give myself a B+/A- for interview skills. I did about 25 screening interviews, got 5 callbacks from OCI, and 1 from mass mailing. I got 2 offers, 2 rejections, and I withdrew my application at 2. I'll be working at a large market paying boutique in a major market. With that said, here's what I wish would have been communicated to me better:

1. When sending mass mailings, always contact a friendly alumni at the firm to let them know you submitted your resume. Its extraordinary how this can make your resume go to the top of the callback pile. Your OCS has a list of the alumni association, and they probably know other alumni that are networking-friendly. IMO, doing this turns mass-mailing from a crap shoot into a something much more viable.

2. You should have two things to say about your 1L summer work: why it was interesting and how it made you better. You will probably not wow a screener by your 1L work, so you have to say something interesting about it to make it memorable. After you have their attention, then you can work in how it bettered your writing skills, research skills, analysis, etc.

3. Don't take soft classes first semester of 2L. If you want to go corporate, take business related classes. Its an incredibly easy way to demonstrate to an employer that you want either litigation/transactional work, and a practitioner will be much more likely to have a conversation with you about your Sec Reg course than your "International Feminist Carebear Law" class.

4. Have a strong answer for the litigation/corporate question. This was asked in at least 90% of my screening and callback interviews. Even if you don't know, you should have an idea which way your leaning and why. More importantly, you should have a REAL idea about what the differences are in practical terms. You need to have something more than, "I don't know, but I hope my summer experience will help me make that decision."

5. Have a realistic bidding strategy. This is pretty common knowledge, except it was notoriously ignored at my school's OCI (we did not have pre-screens). I think the #1 reason why those ranked above me don't have jobs is that they did not have a realistic approach to OCI. What's worse, by wasting their top bids on the highest ranked firms, they lost opportunity at some really great firms lower on most people's list.

6. If your screening interviewer is an alumni and you get a call back, then this person is now your best ally. As an alumni, they want you to work there! Talk to this person prior to the interview to glean some knowledge from them. They will likely give you the insiders perspective on what type of students they are looking to hire. If you make a friend of this person, then they will pull every string they can for you.

That's my perspective. Feel free to disagree with me or post your own advice.

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tome
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby tome » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:25 pm

As much as you can, try to make connections at firms before OCI. It really helped me. Towards the end of your 2nd semester 1st year, hit up friends or whoever to get you in touch with people at firms.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:26 pm

I struck out at OCI. For a while I was bummed. But I am now happy because it worked out for me better than I could have hoped. With that in mind, I contribute these two things:

1. Think about whether you really want to work for a firm. It's very easy to get sucked into the OCI craziness as a 1L and just keep on going on that path until you're at a firm for three years, hating your life, and wondering why you never got to do the things you went to law school to do. That being said, I'm not trying to tell everyone that they should never work at a firm or what have you. Many people want to do the type of work that firms do, and there are certainly benefits to landing a BigLaw job. But, there are also many people who, for various reasons, will be very unhappy working at a firm, and if they came to this realization before getting completely sucked in, maybe things could have worked out differently.

If you think about this and realize you are one of these people who might not be happy a firm, then, in addition to doing OCI, apply to all the gov and public interest work you can. Many deadlines for this programs are EARLY (or, if the program is rolling, fill up when good candidates emerge). Don't be the person who gets to November without an OCI job and realizes that they missed out on gov/public interest jobs that would make them happy because they got distracted by the firm chase.

2. If you are interested in firm work only, make sure you engage in a diverse bidding strategy. The hiring conditions in a market from one year to the next can change drastically. Case in point: last year at my school, those who bid mostly or exclusively in the NYC market had a very difficult time. Those who bid exclusively/mostly in the Chicago market got jobs with comparable ease (it really wasn't easy for anyone, because of the economy, but this is a relative thing). This year? Exact opposite. Many people got callbacks/offers from NYC, but struck out in Chicago. If you did your bidding this year based on the experiences of the now 3Ls, as many people did, you would have a harder time than if you just bid anywhere you would be willing to move / work.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:27 pm

1) Don't waste bids on DC unless you're really sure you know what you're doing. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

2) Don't waste bids on LA/SF unless you're really sure you know what you're doing and you have ties to CA. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

(None of the above applies to hard sciences IP, because in that case, you know what you're doing.)

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Blindmelon
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Blindmelon » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:28 pm

Caveat to #5 - don't underbid either. Lots of people will bid on the lower firms and pre-selects can be a bit competitive at the lower levels.

Also, don't underestimate interviewing ability - practice, but don't study firm info and seem like a robot. Especially in firms with smaller class size, Personality > Rank/Journal. In Boston many people fought for few jobs, and lots of people at median with be at bigfirms, while people on LR won't.

Also, don't listen to hype, if a firm traditionally hires top 10% at your school, that doesn't mean that someone top 1/3rd won't get an offer. You just need to sell what you have beyond grades.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Blindmelon » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) Don't waste bids on DC unless you're really sure you know what you're doing. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

2) Don't waste bids on LA/SF unless you're really sure you know what you're doing and you have ties to CA. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

(None of the above applies to hard sciences IP, because in that case, you know what you're doing.)


Following this, no matter what you do, bid on NYC. Seriously. Even if you hate the city, work there for a few years and move, NYC is a lot easier than most markets.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:46 pm

Blindmelon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:1) Don't waste bids on DC unless you're really sure you know what you're doing. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

2) Don't waste bids on LA/SF unless you're really sure you know what you're doing and you have ties to CA. Otherwise, they're not going to call you back.

(None of the above applies to hard sciences IP, because in that case, you know what you're doing.)


Following this, no matter what you do, bid on NYC. Seriously. Even if you hate the city, work there for a few years and move, NYC is a lot easier than most markets.



TCR. I struck out and this was my biggest mistake. I only have ties to DC, and have no interest in living in NYC. I got enough screeners (~10) in DC to think that I'd stick somewhere, but I definitely didn't realize how competitive it is.

Also credited is having a good answer to "litigation or transactional?" My school's CSO made a big deal about how you don't need an answer, firms don't expect you to know, etc, so I mainly said that I could see upsides to each practice. In actuality, people I know who are all out Lit (on Trial Team, taking Evidence now, etc) did a lot better in OCI.

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wiseowl
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby wiseowl » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:56 pm

The best advice here is the NYC advice. Do it. It doesn't matter if you want to work in tiny tertiary market X if there are literally <10 positions there. You'll be unemployed. Bid heavy on NY, get some callbacks, get some offers. People who bid only on DC or only on "hometown" got screwed.

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nealric
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby nealric » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:09 pm

The best advice here is the NYC advice. Do it. It doesn't matter if you want to work in tiny tertiary market X if there are literally <10 positions there. You'll be unemployed. Bid heavy on NY, get some callbacks, get some offers. People who bid only on DC or only on "hometown" got screwed.


Seconded. I am very, very, glad I bid NYC in addition to my hometown.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:15 pm

Skadden gives out headphones at their booth and is too nice to turn you away even if you don't have an interview.

DeweyWins
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby DeweyWins » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:48 pm

SpiteFence wrote:I wanted to create this thread to share some things I thought were helpful in OCI that were either not mentioned by anyone or were under emphasized. I would really like to hear what worked for others as well. I was not extraordinarily successful during OCI, but I am employed and did much better than others in my situation. I'm at a T25, somewhere between Top 1/3 and 1/4, secondary journal, internships but no full time WE, and was a RA my 1L summer. I would give myself a B+/A- for interview skills. I did about 25 screening interviews, got 5 callbacks from OCI, and 1 from mass mailing. I got 2 offers, 2 rejections, and I withdrew my application at 2. I'll be working at a large market paying boutique in a major market. With that said, here's what I wish would have been communicated to me better:

1. When sending mass mailings, always contact a friendly alumni at the firm to let them know you submitted your resume. Its extraordinary how this can make your resume go to the top of the callback pile. Your OCS has a list of the alumni association, and they probably know other alumni that are networking-friendly. IMO, doing this turns mass-mailing from a crap shoot into a something much more viable.

2. You should have two things to say about your 1L summer work: why it was interesting and how it made you better. You will probably not wow a screener by your 1L work, so you have to say something interesting about it to make it memorable. After you have their attention, then you can work in how it bettered your writing skills, research skills, analysis, etc.

3. Don't take soft classes first semester of 2L. If you want to go corporate, take business related classes. Its an incredibly easy way to demonstrate to an employer that you want either litigation/transactional work, and a practitioner will be much more likely to have a conversation with you about your Sec Reg course than your "International Feminist Carebear Law" class.

4. Have a strong answer for the litigation/corporate question. This was asked in at least 90% of my screening and callback interviews. Even if you don't know, you should have an idea which way your leaning and why. More importantly, you should have a REAL idea about what the differences are in practical terms. You need to have something more than, "I don't know, but I hope my summer experience will help me make that decision."

5. Have a realistic bidding strategy. This is pretty common knowledge, except it was notoriously ignored at my school's OCI (we did not have pre-screens). I think the #1 reason why those ranked above me don't have jobs is that they did not have a realistic approach to OCI. What's worse, by wasting their top bids on the highest ranked firms, they lost opportunity at some really great firms lower on most people's list.

6. If your screening interviewer is an alumni and you get a call back, then this person is now your best ally. As an alumni, they want you to work there! Talk to this person prior to the interview to glean some knowledge from them. They will likely give you the insiders perspective on what type of students they are looking to hire. If you make a friend of this person, then they will pull every string they can for you.

That's my perspective. Feel free to disagree with me or post your own advice.


I don't necessarily agree with #4. A lot of interviewers told me they're actually skeptical when someone expresses a strong commitment to either litigation or corporate unless they have work experience to back it up. Absent work experience, it's pretty much impossible to know which you'll like until you sample both over the summer.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:00 pm

1) When you go to talk to Career Services, do not tell them "I would like to work [in X market, X practice area, X type of firm] or anything they could nod their heads to, unless you are a very strong candidate that will "get in everywhere you apply." Go and say, "I need a job for next summer. These are my grades, and this is my work experience. Where should I be bidding?" Then go to friends, 3Ls, or even here or autoadmit and check out the info to make sure they didn't send you down the wrong path.

And yes, that doesn't mean having too much information or doing too much research before going to see OCS could hurt you relative to someone with no prior info. For example, I assumed if I placed enough bids into a hometown market (where I would have preferred to work over NYC) that not a lot of people from my law school were bidding on, it would be easier to get a job there. It was my initial decision to bid there, but once I told OCS I wanted to work there and had ties, they did nothing to dissuade me. Then, I proceeded to get shut out of that market.

2) Bring tons of resumes, and resume drop at hospitality suits. If nothing else you can get good swag from the better firms (like USB drives).

3) Learn how to do a mail merge in Word (use NALP/Martindale for a list of firms), and mass mail the firms asking for extra screening interviews. This might hedge (a little bit) the chances you overbid or bid on a bad market. Will also help to get your name in to firms that don't come to your OCI.

4) During interviews, you need to throw your interviewer out of his zone if you know you do not have auto-callback grades. If at the end of the day the interviewer remembers your conversation in a good way, you stand a very good chance of getting a callback despite having lower grades than others. So don't be afraid to loosen up a bit, crack jokes, and drop the whole "eager straitlaced law student" routine, unless that's who you are. If the interviewer asks you "how did you like 1L year," and you didn't like certain aspects of it, mention those (in an articulate and thoughtful way) rather than some canned answer about how your classmates are really awesome and the courses are super interesting. Some interviewers might not like this, but I found that the cbs I did get were in the interviews where I wasn't afraid to speak my mind.

All the above advice is great. I would STRONGLY recommend keeping in touch with screening interviewers esp. partners. I had a screener with a hiring partner who gave me a cb, but I didn't keep in touch. The cb (with associates and a recent lateral partner) went okay but I still got rejected. That's just a rookie mistake that a lot of people without much exposure to professional job searching won't know and it may have cost me the offer.

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edcrane
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby edcrane » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:12 pm

I don't necessarily agree with #4. A lot of interviewers told me they're actually skeptical when someone expresses a strong commitment to either litigation or corporate unless they have work experience to back it up. Absent work experience, it's pretty much impossible to know which you'll like until you sample both over the summer.[/quote]

I agree with this. Almost no law students know what transactional work is like. I think that acknowledging your ignorance is a smart play here--you'll come across as thoughtful if you do it correctly.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby RVP11 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:16 pm

Generally, the smart move if you have no transactional experience is to say you're primarily interested in litigation but want to do some transactional work in the summer to see if you like it. If your interviewer is a transactional attorney, be sure to throw in some complaints about how law school is so heavily geared toward litigators (and, often, appellate litigators) so you're disappointed you don't know what transactional work is all about yet. They eat that up.

SpiteFence
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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:40 pm

What I meant to convey on #4 was that you need a strong answer to the question, not necessarily that you had to pick one or the other. Just don't sound like you the question is the first time you've heard of the distinction, which for some it is.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby sk95 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:44 pm

Should have bid on NY--that's where all the jobs are at.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:50 pm

sk95 wrote:Should have bid on NY--that's where all the jobs are at.


I have not heard this from my classmates as much, but we are not an NYC feeder. Although I did target a smaller market and did have some success there (in addition to a major market), the vast majority of people that did this struck out.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) When you go to talk to Career Services, do not tell them "I would like to work [in X market, X practice area, X type of firm] or anything they could nod their heads to, unless you are a very strong candidate that will "get in everywhere you apply." Go and say, "I need a job for next summer. These are my grades, and this is my work experience. Where should I be bidding?" Then go to friends, 3Ls, or even here or autoadmit and check out the info to make sure they didn't send you down the wrong path.



I can't emphasize how important this is.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2) Bring tons of resumes, and resume drop at hospitality suits. If nothing else you can get good swag from the better firms (like USB drives).


This was something I didn't think about but should have. We were given a ton of bid slots for OCI, but told not to make more than 20 or so, lest we be overwhelmed.

Overall sound advice, I think, except for one thing: if you bid on a firm but don't get on their schedule, you can do a resume drop and/or beg for them to interview you. Several of my classmates got callbacks this way.

However, if you don't bid on a firm, it's kind of awkward to go in and say "Hey! I really want to work for you, but I didn't even bid on you, even though I had plenty of extra bid slots."

Looking back, I probably should have bid on more firms. While I'd be unlikely to get an interview with those at the bottom of my list, I could at least resume drop at their hospitality suites.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:58 pm

Unless your resume is really pulling you in a particular direction, I think it is best to say you are open to transactional or litigation. An attorney I interviewed with during a callback told me that 90% of the people he interviews with during OCI say they want to do litigation, but it ends up being 50/50. That isn't to say you should tell employers you want to do transactional work (because you probably haven't had enough experience with transactional work to know that). But, I think you will optimize prospects generally by saying you are open to either one, and are able to give good reasons why both interest you.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:27 pm

T14 in the top third or so, nothing from OCI, desperately trying to recover.

http://www.despair.com/mis24x30prin.html

Take heed, future TLS readers.

1. Markets.

2. Mass-mailing before OCI. (Including alumni-contacting.)

3. Bidding properly on OCI (e.g. not wasting high-level bids on "easy-to-get" firms ... in particular, blow your weakest bids on more selective firms that fewer people will be going for)

4. For all the pressure that exists to get great 1L grades, it's really not about grades, at least for some firms. At my T14, it seems like the top 20% or so could waltz right into offers based on grades, at least at certain firms, but otherwise it doesn't seem to have been determinative.

5. Be aware of the distinction between "interview-ish" and "conversational" interviewing. The former would be: the interviewer pitches a question like, "Tell me about your experience at X job." or "What are your strengths?", you give a response, they evaluate you on your responses. The latter: a normal conversation, albeit about your qualifications. There is very much a difference between these two modes of interaction. I went with the former. I think it's part of what fucked me. They wanted to just talk, I adopted a different style, they were annoyed. I do tend to talk too much, but I don't think I'm some sort of crazy "aspie": it is very easy to go into "interview answer mode" when you're enormously stressed and they open with a question that sounds like an "interview-ish" question. Concrete advice: short answers, and let them talk. It isn't oral arguments and you don't need to score points by making persuasive arguments about your qualifications; most likely, someone in an office somewhere is going to be evaluating your qualifications, while this person judges how fun you are to be around.

6. Reinforcing 5: OCI is not a formality whereby they can pick up the transcripts that career services conceals from them. I think they actually do care quite a bit about how you come across.

7. Put a lot of apps in the oven early on. It quickly gets much harder to strike up a dialogue with a firm.

8. In case it wasn't clear: within about a month of OCI, most of the market has gone cold, and you're almost certainly fucked. (Or at least, you're in kind of that "here's what to do if trapped in a cage with a hungry bear" sort of situation ... there are ways to improve your odds of survival, but it's truly "last-ditch" desperate maneuvers.)

9. Counterpoint to 8: let's say you're someone who only finds this post in mid-September. 8 is true. However, do not underestimate the advantage of "now" relative to "in two weeks". Things are bad, but they will continue to get worse for quite some time before totally flatlining, which means that even if your odds suck now you will be longing for that modest measure of hope in the near future. Take advantage of it now.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:31 pm

I would x100000000000 markets. So very many wasted bids and hopeless screeners.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:34 pm

Oh, let me tack on an important 10:


10. Offices. Think very hard about offices. I was surprised when screeners were like, "so, what other offices are you interested in? I can give them your application materials". It sounds tempting, but I suspect that it is what certain naval officers would call "A TRAP!" I'm not sure, but I get the feeling that if you're going to get a callback, it will almost certainly be to the office that the interviewer is from. If you get stuck with an interviewer from, say, LA, and you want SF, I would probably advise treating it as an opportunity to get an LA job. I'm not sure, though.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Oh, let me tack on an important 10:


10. Offices. Think very hard about offices. I was surprised when screeners were like, "so, what other offices are you interested in? I can give them your application materials". It sounds tempting, but I suspect that it is what certain naval officers would call "A TRAP!" I'm not sure, but I get the feeling that if you're going to get a callback, it will almost certainly be to the office that the interviewer is from. If you get stuck with an interviewer from, say, LA, and you want SF, I would probably advise treating it as an opportunity to get an LA job. I'm not sure, though.


To be fair, this is generally I guess good advice but I got my offer this way. Screener from Atlanta asked me what offices of the firm I was interested in. Got a callback/offer from a totally different location, and it was the first one that I told him.

I think I could sense with this particular guy that it wasn't a trap and it paid off, but at a lot of firms it definitely can be.

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Re: Things You Wish You Would Have Known Before OCI

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:57 pm

10. Offices. Think very hard about offices. I was surprised when screeners were like, "so, what other offices are you interested in? I can give them your application materials". It sounds tempting, but I suspect that it is what certain naval officers would call "A TRAP!" I'm not sure, but I get the feeling that if you're going to get a callback, it will almost certainly be to the office that the interviewer is from. If you get stuck with an interviewer from, say, LA, and you want SF, I would probably advise treating it as an opportunity to get an LA job. I'm not sure, though.





This is credited. Think of how many links there are in the chain between you interviewing with a partner in Firm X's LA office and getting a job in Firm X's SF office: (1) the interviewer has to actually pass your information on to the other office, (2) the other office has to actually have a spot for you, (3) the other office has to somehow take the interviewer's word on the all important "fit" and choose you over people they've personally interviewed, (4) the other office has to somehow be convinced of your ties to the area, without you having a chance to explain such ties in person, considering that you interviewed in a completely different city.

Plus, you're shooting yourself in the foot for the first office because now they think you'll be looking to split to a different city.




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