Timing Matters for Pre-OCI Recruiting

by the Summer Associate Hub Team

It’s no secret that many firms are recruiting heavily before OCI, by attracting students directly in early summer (in some cases during the spring).  Some large firms have a structured process, with specific dates of when they will respond to students, interview, and fill their classes.  However, most firms are conducting their 2L recruiting process on a rolling basis – inviting in strong candidates throughout the process, moving quickly until they fill their class.
(Many firms have drastically reduced their participation in traditional law school OCI at top schools, and some firms who have signed up for OCI are considering whether they will have room by the time OCI rolls around.)
The 2L recruiting process can be stressful – we don’t intend to make this process more stressful, but our goal is provide accurate information and advice based on our conversations with firms, students, and schools.  So you can navigate the process as effectively possible.
Simply put: when it comes to pre-OCI recruiting, timing is important.
I recently heard from a student who went through the 2L recruiting process in 2023.  They were given an option to schedule a callback with a firm on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday – they chose Friday based on their availability.  By the time Friday came around, the firm had already made additional offers, and he didn’t make the cut – the info he received from attorneys was that this might not have occurred on Wednesday. In another case, a law student rescheduled a callback due an unavoidable personal conflict, to just a few days later.  By the time the later date, came around, the firm had no more offers to make.
Of course, these are extreme cases and you shouldn’t be concerned that the rug will pulled out from under you.  We don’t expect this to happen for most students.
However, it is a good lesson that firms are moving quickly and figuring out their pre-OCI hiring process and needs in real-time.  We also understand this to be the case from our conversations with firms, who are putting a lot of attention into getting candidates in to interview quickly through June or earlier.
So, here are a few practical tips, to the extent possible:
  • If you are interested in a firm, apply as soon as you can once the firm opens up their portal.  (If your law school offers a structured pre-OCI resume collect, understand from your career services office what the advantages are to applying through the resume collect, if that means you are waiting longer – for example, if the firm is required to keep an offer open for longer.  Note that if you are limited in your resume collect applications, firms still encourage you to apply directly through the firm’s website if you cannot apply through the resume collect.)
  • If you are invited for a screener, take the earliest date that you can.
  • If you are invited for a callback, take the earliest date that you can.
  • If you get an offer and you are considering taking it – schedule a second-look as soon as you can, to learn more about the firm and make a more informed decision.  The sooner you can learn more about the firm, the sooner you can rule other firms out, or rule THAT firm out.
One complication of the rolling timeline of pre-OCI is the timeline for accepting an offer.  You may get an “exploding offer” from a firm that expires in 2 weeks, while you are still interviewing with others.  Exploding offers is a topic we cover in our Keys to Navigating Pre-OCI Recruiting blog post (highly recommend reading it) – it is important to be thoughtful (and ask for an extension if you need one).
As you navigate the pre-OCI recruiting process, hopefully this transparent information helps you think about when to apply and schedule interviews so you can maximize your chances at accepting an offer you are excited about.

Summer Associate Hub Team

This content is based on our own experiences as former law students and BigLaw attorneys, and countless conversations with firm recruiting teams, law students, law school career advisors, legal career coaches, and hiring partners.  

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