Anonymous User wrote:If you're not sure whether you want to do lit or transactional - is that something you have to settle on before OCI? Will firms let you try out assignments for both during a 2L SA? Is it possible to land an SA at good corporate/M&A firms without a business background - and once there, will you be taken seriously?
UChi alum and biglaw associate here. The more you know about your own interests and what you want to do, the better off you will be. But, if you don't know and want to use a SA program to learn what you want to do, you can still land a good SA. Look for firms that stress the fact that summers and associates aren't hired into a "group" and have the ability to try different practices.
You don't necessarily have to settle on lit or transactional before OCI, but in my view you do not want to be completely evenhanded, either. In other words it's not good to say, "I have no idea what I want to do, so I want to try everything," but it's okay to say something like, "my interest is primarily litigation, although I haven't ruled anything out, and one of the things that interests me about XYZ's summer program is the opportunity to get at least some exposure to practice groups outside of litigation." (Assuming that's true of the firm's summer program -- most firms have very flexible summer programs and don't hire you into a specific group, but some do.)
My advice not to be completely evenhanded should also apply to choices between firms and cities. It would seem woefully unfocused if, for example, a candidate said "I'm deciding between litigation at Susman in Houston and M&A at Wachtell in New York." Most interviewers' attitude would be that those are such different things that the candidate really doesn't know what they're doing.
Also, no business background is not fatal for getting a corporate/M&A SA gig. Might make it more difficult, but it isn't fatal. And once you have the job and start working no one will care, as long as you have by then at least taken some of the introductory corporate classes and have a rudimentary understanding of the lingo. (Don't be the SA from a few years ago who was "sooooo interested" in corporate work but had to ask me what I meant when I described a company as "highly leveraged.")