Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

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blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:57 am

I won't pretend that my advice is universally applicable, but I thought I'd offer it:

I was a T2 student with good grades, but I'm a lackluster interviewer and I struck out in an especially bad OCI year.

I did various internships throughout law school -- a judge, a non-profit, a couple of small firms. I knew that none were situations likely to hire, but in each I worked like I was trying to get hired anyway.

When 3L neared its end and I didn't have a job lined up, this worked wonders. I reached out to all the people I had worked closely with, and sure enough they thought highly of me and were happy to recommend me. I got a biglaw interview (though I did not get the job) through one former supervisor, a small firm interview through another, and finally a midsized firm interview where TWO different past supervisors put in glowing recs and I got the job.

Here are a few things that I've found supervisors seem to like (note: this sort of assumes litigation, although you could probably adapt some of it to other work):

1) Whenever you get an assignment, ask questions and make sure you actually, fully understand the assignment. Busy partners and senior associates tend to rattle-off half-baked research ideas without giving you context. They often tell you you don't have to actually understand the case to do the research, and half the time they're wrong about this, just because they're so immersed in the case and busy that they don't realize that what they want isn't obvious. Don't be afraid to just take a minute and clarify important details they may be leaving out. Of course there are limits -- if it's a senior partner, e.g., you may want to go ask an associate and not waste the senior guy's time.

2) Even with simple tasks, think of small organizational things you can do to make the assigning person's life easier. E.g. sometimes an attorney would tell me "Can you find and print me a case that says X? I know it exists, I just need you to print it." I'd always make sure to highlight the passage and tab the page so they didn't have to waste time flipping through. If this seems obvious to you, good. Not everyone does it. Similarly, where possible, I'd keep track of important dates (granted not always doable if you're in 2 days a week).

3) Learn the case! Don't see yourself as just some worker drone doing discreet tasks. Read the complaint, answer, briefs on the MTD, any opinions that have come down, etc. in your down time. Ask other associates questions about it. Read a couple of dep transcripts or digests. Understanding where your work fits in will make it better, even if you're reviewing documents or doing research. Plus you'll learn more about the work in general and this will come in useful later.

4) Ask to observe court hearings, depositions, etc. -- show interest and use the internship as a learning experience. People will notice your enthusiasm.

I could give more, but it's all basically showing tons of initiative while maintaining appropriate humility, not jumping rank, etc.

sebastian0622
Posts: 276
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:30 pm

Re: Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

Postby sebastian0622 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:09 am

You would think these things would be common sense for people smart enough to go to law school, but alas, they aren't. I'll add one more: don't waste anyone's time. Don't bug attorneys with dumb questions. Don't ask secretaries to do things that you could do in two minutes. Don't go into a partner's office five times to ask questions about a project; save up the questions, keep researching, and ask him several questions at once. Better yet, whenever possible, don't ask any questions after your initial meeting about a project. Bring him something "finished" but let him know you made a few assumptions but can research certain areas further if need be.

One of the biggest complaints about other SA's I've heard is that they get comfortable in the office and start acting more or less like they're hanging out with a bunch of friends at summer camp. Remember and respect the value of others' time.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:10 am

sebastian0622 wrote:You would think these things would be common sense for people smart enough to go to law school, but alas, they aren't. I'll add one more: don't waste anyone's time. Don't bug attorneys with dumb questions. Don't ask secretaries to do things that you could do in two minutes. Don't go into a partner's office five times to ask questions about a project; save up the questions, keep researching, and ask him several questions at once. Better yet, whenever possible, don't ask any questions after your initial meeting about a project. Bring him something "finished" but let him know you made a few assumptions but can research certain areas further if need be.

One of the biggest complaints about other SA's I've heard is that they get comfortable in the office and start acting more or less like they're hanging out with a bunch of friends at summer camp. Remember and respect the value of others' time.


Yes. These are good too. "Don't get comfortable" is something I find I often have to remind myself even in f/t work.

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beach_terror
Posts: 7249
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:01 pm

Re: Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

Postby beach_terror » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:11 am

sebastian0622 wrote:You would think these things would be common sense for people smart enough to go to law school, but alas, they aren't.

lol, was this a necessary preface?

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Want a non-OCI job? PWN at your internships (tips ITT)

Postby adonai » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:45 pm

Agree with all the above, especially the part where you should work as if you were getting paid and doing the small things (such as the highlighting/tabbing thing suggested). Your supervisors will probably talk about you amongst themselves and it can ultimately get relayed to the person in charge of hiring. I don't think this just applies when you are a law student, but also if you intern at some law office pre-law. Many people will think it is below them to work so hard when they aren't even being paid, or take shortcuts through their assignments to do "just enough" to get by, and many will think since they aren't getting enough feedback from their busy attorneys that they aren't being noticed. Hardwork + humility may be able to save you when your grades can't.




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