On Campus Interviews
Law firms often hire a year in advance for anticipated summer clerkships and associate positions. One of their recruiting tools involves interviewing at law schools during the fall.
What is OCI?
OCI (On Campus Interviews) is a national season running mid-August through mid-October. It is a time in which larger and specialty firms visit campuses throughout the country to interview (primarily) 2L students for clerkships to begin the following summer.
Each year Willamette hosts employers on campus to interview Willamette students. Most of these firms are from Portland, but each year we host employers from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Although most on campus employers will be from larger private firms, this is also the time of year for hiring through the federal government honors programs and other out-of-state agencies, such as the Washington Attorney General's Office. Occasionally, a state or federal government agency will visit campus to interview students.
On the firm side, those employers that can predict their hiring needs a year or more in advance may participate in OCI. These are typically larger or specialty (like patent) firms.
On the student side, those students with specialty backgrounds, who are in the top half of the class, or those with geographic ties to the area the law firm is located, participate. OCI is open to all students, but employers have the option to "screen" applicants and determine who they want to interview while on campus.
What are they hiring for?
Firms are hiring second year students for summer associate (clerking) positions beginning in the summer. An offer of an associate attorney position may follow after the summer (fall of 3L year). Firms who interview 3L's are hiring for attorney jobs beginning after graduation.
How does the OCI on-campus interview process differ from "regular" interviews?
Fall OCI is a nationwide season with participation of hundreds of law firms throughout the country visiting hundreds of law school campuses. It is the way that larger firms do their hiring.
The on campus interviews are "screening" interviews of 20-30 minutes. These are not in-depth interviews, but are designed to help "rule in" and "rule out" candidates. An employer may interview up to 20 students on campus, then invite 0-6 back to the office for a "real" in-office interview (a call back). These call back interviews may last a half or full day.
The rejection level for OCI is very high - although grades may get you an initial on campus interview, the competition is fierce because you are competing not just with other students from Willamette, but with students throughout the country! Therefore, preparation, research and a flawless presentation at each stage is key.
Salaries are pre-set and non-negotiable. The National Association for Law Placement has specific timelines and guidelines that apply to this process. For more information, see your CPDC manual or visit the NALP website.
Some firms allow open sign-up for a 20/30 minute screening interview on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those firms and agencies interviewing in the fall often extend employment offers by Christmas or shortly thereafter. During the spring semester, smaller law firms, D.A.'s and government agencies hold interviews, usually off campus, for both first and second-year students.
The Career & Professional Development Office conducts an informational session each fall to provide students with basic information about the on-campus interview process.
How do I know which firms participate in the OCI process?
All second and third year students will be sent a copy of the OCI schedule during July. This schedule will include a list of employers who have thus far signed up to participate in Willamette's on campus interviewing process for the Fall. You may also search the NALP Directory online or in print to see which campuses a particular firm will visit. You can also search by firm on Lexis or Westlaw.
- Firms will continue to be added throughout the season
- Firms will often change their interview dates due to conflicts
- Make sure to check the CPDC OCI calendar located on Symplicity and on the bulletin board in the Career Center. It will contain all changes and updates.
Mechanics of the Process
There is basically a two week turn around between the time you submit your application materials and the on campus interview. The CPDC has developed an efficient scheduling process. Students are expected to comply with the OCI guidelines listed on your on campus participation registration form, and the information contained in the OCI Student Manual which is given to all participating students.
For more information about on-campus interview firms and firms requesting resumes from students, see firm files in the CPDC Resource Room and visit their websites.