How important is networking before OCI?

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cruxisfalcon
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How important is networking before OCI?

Postby cruxisfalcon » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:34 pm

Coming from a finance background, networking was tremendously important when recruiting and people recommended reaching out to people at firms you were interested in either when you dropped your resume or before your first round interviews. In general, you'd have "informational interviews" where you would ask them questions about their background and about the firm. The idea was that if you knew people at the firm, they'd vouch for you and help you either get the interview or set you apart during interviews. In my experience, this was tremendously useful in that people with mediocre grades or work experience were able to land interviews they'd otherwise be passed over for and interviews were much more relaxed because you were more acquainted with the firm.

From reading around the forums here, this doesn't seem to be the case in biglaw recruiting. Do people ever reach out to firms before interviews or do they just drop their resume and hope for the best?

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OneMoreLawHopeful
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby OneMoreLawHopeful » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:42 pm

It's a tough line to walk right now.

On the one hand, networking is very important, and can be done well to get a job, see this guide as an example:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=87297

But, on the other hand, everyone knows that the legal field is tight for jobs right now, which can result in really off putting experiences if someone seems to have only contacted you for employment purposes (e.g. I don't really know what you do or who your firm is, but I'm talking to you because you get a paycheck).

Overall, networking is important (I know that people can get extra screener interviews at OCI because of it), but you have to be careful about how you do it.

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cinephile
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby cinephile » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:52 pm

Yes, people reach out to law firms all the time. They do mock interviews with alums from their school who are at various firms, attend networking receptions held by the firms, set up informational interviews with people at the firm they're interested in, etc.

TooOld4This
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby TooOld4This » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:19 pm

Networking is far more important than posts on here generally indicate. It is important to view it as casting a wide net, not trying to spear individual fish. Your goal in networking should be meeting people and learning, not asking for a job.

Right now is the perfect time for 1Ls to start networking with people in areas relevant to your 2L summer interests. Reach out now. Let them know that you are thinking ahead and think you are interested in their firm/specialty/market and were wondering if they would have time for coffee. Then have good questions. Ask for advice. Listen to the answers. Keep track of who you meet and something memorable about the person. If you run into an article that is relevant to something you spoke about, forward with a quick note. Don't be a pest, though.

When it comes to OCI, you will be much better prepared if you've done a bunch of informational interviews. You will be able to answer "why X" questions. If you happened to meet with someone from that firm, you can talk about that conversation. It shows you put an effort in and that your interest in the firm predates being asked to put in a bid list.

Yes, this might be overkill. The majority of BigLaw hiring is done by looking at resumes, cutting people on arbitrary credentials and then weeding that stack down by getting rid of potential bad fits. However, if you are in range of a firm, having done the legwork can give your resume and interview more serious consideration. It is also easier to reach out for actual "help, I need a job advice" when you have already met with people well before you knew you were SOL.

I am always happy to meet with alumns from either my law school or UG. As long as you seem to have a genuine interest in learning, I actually like being able to help. A lot of attorneys are like that, especially ones that volunteer to be on career services lists. These resources are way under-utilized, IMHO.

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OutCold
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby OutCold » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:24 pm

Honestly, while I think networking is valuable for a number of other reasons, I don't think its very helpful in terms of getting a job through OCI. Unless the contact within the firm is so strong that they would be willing to go to bat for you, the major benefit seems to be the ability to bring up your conversations with the contact when your interviewer asks the inevitable "why x firm" question. That really does make you a more credible interviewee.

desertlaw
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby desertlaw » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:40 pm

I was more of a introvert or rather-not-chit-chat with someone most of my life, but networking has actually been somewhat fun/enjoyable the past few years. First, networking/coffee/happy hour type things are good just for learning how to shoot the shit with someone in the same career as you. That's good preparation for OCI in itself. If you've been able to have 20-40 minute coffee with someone that's a stranger/alumni/family friend, then an OCI interview shouldn't be that tough.

Also, I think networking is important for the mentoring and long-term aspect of a career. Even if it doesn't give you a job out of OCI, it's good to have someone give you unbiased advice and insight for your career.

Renzo
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby Renzo » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:20 pm

You need to divide the world into two camps: big firms and everything else.

For big firms, it can't hurt, but it really can't help much either. The firms have rigid hiring systems in place, and very, very few people have the juice to be able to circumvent the system--and those few people are the ones who put the system in place, so they think it works. If you have the grades and the interviews go OK, you don't need an inside ally. But, if you don't have the grades, or you tank an interview, almost nothing and no one can help you.

For everything else, networking is crucially important. There are far, far more JD's than jobs, and most of those jobs are going to be filled by someone who knows someone.

Anonymous User
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:40 am

For big firms, it can't hurt, but it really can't help much either. The firms have rigid hiring systems in place, and very, very few people have the juice to be able to circumvent the system--and those few people are the ones who put the system in place, so they think it works. If you have the grades and the interviews go OK, you don't need an inside ally. But, if you don't have the grades, or you tank an interview, almost nothing and no one can help you.


This is the wrong way to look at networking in the big-firm context, particularly if you go to a T14 and wind up somewhere between the top 25% and top 75% of the class. It's not about your contact "circumventing the system" - it's about showing your on-campus interviewer that you're genuinely interested in the firm, and that you've done more homework than read the "careers" part of their website. If you're in the vast middle of the grade distribution bell curve, you need something memorable about you to stand out to your interviewer after an 8-hour day of screeners. Being able to tell an interviewer that you spoke with [Attorney X] in [Practice area Y] and find [Aspect Z] particularly interesting goes a long way in sticking with them.

Networking can land you a job directly in some instances that aren't biglaw hiring. But even for biglaw, the mere fact that you bothered networking goes a long way toward getting to the callback round.

Renzo
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby Renzo » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
For big firms, it can't hurt, but it really can't help much either. The firms have rigid hiring systems in place, and very, very few people have the juice to be able to circumvent the system--and those few people are the ones who put the system in place, so they think it works. If you have the grades and the interviews go OK, you don't need an inside ally. But, if you don't have the grades, or you tank an interview, almost nothing and no one can help you.


This is the wrong way to look at networking in the big-firm context, particularly if you go to a T14 and wind up somewhere between the top 25% and top 75% of the class. It's not about your contact "circumventing the system" - it's about showing your on-campus interviewer that you're genuinely interested in the firm, and that you've done more homework than read the "careers" part of their website. If you're in the vast middle of the grade distribution bell curve, you need something memorable about you to stand out to your interviewer after an 8-hour day of screeners. Being able to tell an interviewer that you spoke with [Attorney X] in [Practice area Y] and find [Aspect Z] particularly interesting goes a long way in sticking with them.

Networking can land you a job directly in some instances that aren't biglaw hiring. But even for biglaw, the mere fact that you bothered networking goes a long way toward getting to the callback round.


This general sentiment of our post is a good one and you are right that having something specific to say about a firm is helpful; but the tone of your post overestimates the value of this kind of "networking," at least in relation to the OP's question. You cannot "network" your way into a job in biglaw they way you can in many fields, and that's what OP asked.

Anonymous User
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:25 am

I got one of my OCI offers through networking. I reached out to members of the firm's office in the market where I was doing my summer job and went to all their receptions, had coffee and lunch with partners and associates, and generally got to know most people at the firm. When OCI came around, I didn't get allocated an interview with them (lottery system). However, who should I see in the hospitality suite but one of the partners I knew from the other office? She got me a screener during the interviewer's lunch break, and I got a callback almost immediately. Then, on my callback, one of my interviewers was someone I had met at a reception during the summer.

I also had an offer before OCI through networking. Don't rely on OCI for a job and mass mail/network your butt off.

These things matter, but also for more than immediate career goals. The best way to figure out what you should be doing in your career to accomplish what you want is to develop mentors who have already been there.

Anonymous User wrote:
For big firms, it can't hurt, but it really can't help much either. The firms have rigid hiring systems in place, and very, very few people have the juice to be able to circumvent the system--and those few people are the ones who put the system in place, so they think it works. If you have the grades and the interviews go OK, you don't need an inside ally. But, if you don't have the grades, or you tank an interview, almost nothing and no one can help you.


This is the wrong way to look at networking in the big-firm context, particularly if you go to a T14 and wind up somewhere between the top 25% and top 75% of the class. It's not about your contact "circumventing the system" - it's about showing your on-campus interviewer that you're genuinely interested in the firm, and that you've done more homework than read the "careers" part of their website. If you're in the vast middle of the grade distribution bell curve, you need something memorable about you to stand out to your interviewer after an 8-hour day of screeners. Being able to tell an interviewer that you spoke with [Attorney X] in [Practice area Y] and find [Aspect Z] particularly interesting goes a long way in sticking with them.

Networking can land you a job directly in some instances that aren't biglaw hiring. But even for biglaw, the mere fact that you bothered networking goes a long way toward getting to the callback round.


Also this. Networking is a great way to get talking points that will demonstrate your interest in a firm beyond the "you're a firm that pays market and I need a job" that they get from most law students. Come to think of it, my first OCI callback was a foregone conclusion because when I walked in, the interviewer said, "I've been looking forward to meeting you! [Friend] has told me so much about you." Though it might not always work that way, it does sometimes, and that might be what you need to end up employed.

So many of my friends thought they could just show up at OCI and get a job, and it didn't work out for all of them.

(Anon in case that firm recognizes me - hope it's okay)

hangtime813
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby hangtime813 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:29 pm

for my own experience, networking with the big firms didnt really help me with OCI...but helped TREMENDOUSLY for finding a job with mid-size smaller firms.

Anonymous User
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Re: How important is networking before OCI?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:25 am

Words of advise: "It's not about who you know, but what you know"




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