OCI Interviewing Advice from a 3L

(Originally posted August 8, 2014.)
OCI Interviewing Advice from a 3L

By Lindsay S. Fouse
Third Year Day Student

2014 Summer Associate, Clark Hill

As we begin to prepare for OCIs, think about three things:

First, be able to answer exactly what makes you different from all of the other applicants. Your answer should be sincere, specific, and personalized. Be mindful of the fact that if you get the job, that answer will be put to the test—so be honest.

Second, in the interview, be someone that the interviewer and his or her firm would want as a colleague. Nod when they say something, smile and be pleasant, and appear engaged and interested to be interviewing with their firm because that matters to them—that you are genuinely happy to have the opportunity to get to know them.

Third, have four pre-written, go-to answers that run the gamut. For example, inevitably, you will be asked about what you did this past summer (i.e. if you wrote for a judge- be able to explain one interesting thing that you worked on), what you are involved in at Duquesne Law (i.e. clubs, organizations, research or teaching assistant positions, jobs, journals), what are your interests outside of school (i.e. hobbies, family, sports), what are qualities/attributes that would serve you well in the field of law and what about your personality fits the culture and mission of the respective law firm. I find that if you have those down to a tee, regardless of the question, you can in some way, shape, or form tailor all of your answers to safely get back to those go-tos, and to really have a successful interview.

Some food for thought—the toughest questions that I have been asked at an OCI:

1)    Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

2)    If you don’t get hired by this firm, what will you do?

3)    Tell us about your style of leadership.

4)    What do you do for fun?

5)    Tell us about a recent mistake that you have made.

6)    What’s the worst question you can think of to ask me?

7)    What constitutes “success” in your mind?

8)    What type of people would you have trouble working with?

9)    Describe yourself in one word.

10) What are some of the most imaginative and creative things that you have done in a job?

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Attorney General’s Honors Program (HP) and Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP) Webinar

Students interested in the Attorney General’s Honors Program (HP) and Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP) are invited to watch a webinar about the programs and application process. The webinar will be hosted by the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management and will provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about the Programs and the application.

Please note that the HP and SLIP application opens on Sunday, July 31, 2016. Students are encouraged to review the application prior to the webinars and come prepared with questions.

This webinar is open to law students throughout the country, and we sincerely hope interested students can attend one of the two sessions, either August 9th at 12:00 P.M. (EST) or August 10th at 3:00 P.M. (EST). RSVP deadlines and instructions.  RSVP’s are required and are limited to the first 100 students to sign-up.

More information about both programs, including offices participating and the number of available positions, can be found at:

HP: https://www.justice.gov/legal-careers/entry-level-attorneys
SLIP: https://www.justice.gov/legal-careers/summer-law-intern-program

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ABA Law Practice Today: The Attorney Well-Being Issue

Check out the latest issue of the ABA Law Practice Today’s Law Student Syndication!  This month’s articles focus on attorney well-being.

Articles include

Four Things Resilient Lawyers Do Differently

Finding Your Work/Life Balance

Teaching Lawyers About Happiness

 

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Babst Calland Softball Team

Babst Calland’s softball team that plays in the ACBA Softball League is looking for 4 Duquesne Law students to join their team for the rest of the summer. The league provides a fun way to meet and network with attorneys on the Babst team as well as teams you’ll play against.

Students interested in joining the team or who have questions should contact Jim Miller (L’08), Shareholder at Babst Calland.  Mr. Miller’s email address is jmiller@babstcalland.com.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions – On-Campus Interviewing

In response to students’ questions about the on-campus interview program, the Career Services Office (CSO) created this “Frequently Asked Questions” post.  Of course, students with additional questions are encouraged to contact the CSO.

How do I find and apply for these positions? All OCI positions are posted on DuqLawConnect, under the “OCI” tab.  Students are encouraged to review the User Guide for specific information.

Is someone in the CSO available to review my application materials?
Yes.  Students should forward documents (in Word format) to the CSO for review.  Documents should be forwarded to Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu.  Due to increased requests to review materials during the summer, please allow one week for the review of your materials.

It is important to ask someone to review your materials before you submit them.  Another person is likely to see typos and other errors that you have overlooked because you have lived with the documents for so long.

The CSO will not review writing samples for content, so students should contact the professor or attorney involved with the writing sample with questions about content.  Students intending to submit documents written while serving as an intern, law clerk, volunteer or similar position must get permission to use such documents as writing samples, either with or without redactions.

How can I research firms and employers?
The firm’s website is the natural place to start your research, but you must do more.  Talk with other students who work at the firm or have interviewed with the firm in the past.  Some students submit Summer Employment Surveys to the CSO, and we keep them on file in the office.  Ask the CSO to identify students who are willing to talk with current students going through the interview process.  Thankfully, many Duquesne Law students will make themselves available to answer questions for the benefit of those that follow them.

You can use the tools on Lexis and Westlaw to get an in depth look at the types of cases the firm handles.  Before you tell a firm that you have been interested in the practice of health law since you were 10 years old, find out how many cases involving health law the firm actually handles.  This not only will prevent you from including incorrect information in your cover letter or an embarrassing situation during an interview, it also allows you to show the employer that you have looked beyond their website while preparing your application materials.

You can use the NALP Directory of Legal Employers to research many large firms that provide detailed information to NALP for inclusion in this on-line directory.  You also can use Chambers Associates to discover information about some large firms.  (Follow the link to both on the left menu bar).

Many firms have social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  If you use any of these social media outlets, follow the firms of interest to you so you can read updates that they post.  The CSO does not recommend that you seek LinkedIn connections with individual attorneys or recruiters at the firms, however.  As a potential interview candidate, these individual connections should not be pursued.  However, if someone at the firm invites you to connect with them, it is appropriate to accept their invitation.  Be sure you have professional appearances on any of these sites.  Check the E-Guides on E-Professionalism under the Career Resources tab for more information.

How can I distinguish myself in my cover letter?
As noted in the previous question, do your homework by learning as much about a firm or organization as possible.  When writing your letter, consider your audience.  Generally speaking, an employer wants to know how you can help them by furthering their business objectives and addressing the needs of their clients.  Cover letters are very often the most difficult document to prepare during the application process.  You must convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job without rehashing everything on your resume or overstating your qualifications.  This art takes practice.  Consider “Cover Letters: 7 Steps to Creating a Great True First Impression” as you write (and re-write) your cover letters.  Check the Drafting a Cover Letter webinar, too, that’s available under the Career Resources tab.

Should I tailor my cover letters?
Yes.  Each letter should be tailored to the firm to which you are applying.  You should include the specific contact information for the firm in your letter (Name, Firm Name, Address) in the appropriate place in the letter.  You should address the letter to that contact (Dear Mr. or Ms. ____:).

You can find the contact information in the OCI listing; letters should be addressed to the person listed under “Contact Information.”  If the information is not available for some reason, always check the employer’s website for the information.  You should let the employer know why you are writing to them in particular.  This is where your research comes into play.

Where can I find sample legal resumes and cover letters?
The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about each of these subjects, as well as other topics such as interviewing skills and follow-up correspondence.  You can find The CSO Handbook on this site under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).  When preparing your cover letter and resume, type your contact information in the document itself, rather than as a “header” in the document.  Employers have told us that they can’t always see your name and contact information when they view documents on their computer screen because headers are hidden.

How do I get an unofficial transcript from DORI?
Current students may access their unofficial transcript on DORI by selecting “View Academic Transcripts”.  Students may print the transcript as a pdf file, which allows you to save the document as a pdf file and upload/submit it as necessary. Unless an employer specifies otherwise, an unofficial transcript is fine to submit with your application documents.  The CSO recommends against ordering pdf files through the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) for use in OCI or other employment applications.  Employers have reported difficulties with opening the files from NSC, so we do not recommend that you use them as part of your application materials.

What should I use as a writing sample?
Most students use an excerpt from their Legal Research & Writing appellate brief as their writing sample.  However, some students prefer to use something they drafted during a summer internship or law clerk position.  Students must have permission from their employer/supervisor to use a document prepared during an internship/work setting; the employer may require that sensitive information is redacted from the document before it can be used.  No matter the source of a writing sample, students should be prepared to answer questions about it during an interview, so be sure to select a writing sample that you are most comfortable with and that shows your writing abilities in the best light possible.

Unless otherwise specified, a writing sample should be 5-12 pages.  Students should consider creating a cover page for their writing sample where they can identify the document and indicate that it is, in fact, an excerpt from a larger document.

I participated in the Law Review write-on competition, and I don’t know my status yet.  How should I write this on my resume?
The Law Review editors are aware of the first OCI application deadline of July 13, and they are working towards notifying students about their status before the deadline so this information can be added to resumes accordingly.

Are OCI application materials sent to employers all at once or on a rolling basis?
Unless an employer requests otherwise, the CSO will not release any application materials to the employers before the application deadline.  After the deadline passes, every application received by the deadline will be sent to the employer for review.  If an employer asks to receive applications on a rolling basis, notification will be included in the OCI posting.

Can I make a change to a document after I submit a bid?
You can update your documents any time prior to the application deadline.  However, you must withdraw your application, a.k.a. bid, upload the revised document, and re-submit your bid.  These steps must be done before the application deadline.

Will the CSO forward late applications?
No.  Only materials submitted by the posted deadline will be forwarded to the employer.  Students who miss the application deadline must submit their materials to employers directly in order to be considered for an interview.

Does the CSO rank or screen applications?
No.  The CSO submits all materials submitted by the deadline.  The employer then reviews the application materials and provides the CSO with a list of students they would like to interview.  The CSO does not use any type of ranking, screening or lottery system for student interviews.

What does “Total Slots” mean on the OCI listing?
This indicates the number of candidates the employer intends to interview at the time they register for the On-Campus Interviewing Program.  The employer may end up interviewing more or less students, but they typically interview the number stated.

How will I know if I have been selected for an interview?
After receiving notification from the employer, students will receive an email from the CSO informing them if they have or have not been selected for an interview.

Are interview times assigned?
No.  Students who have been selected for an interview will receive an email notification informing them that they must go to DuqLawConnect to select an interview time.  The interview times determined by the employer will be listed accordingly, and times will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Will I know the names of the people interviewing me?
Most employers provide the names of the people (either attorneys and/or recruiters) planning to conduct the interviews.  However, it is not uncommon for a firm to contact the CSO prior to the interview with a change.  If time permits, the CSO notifies students of the change in interviewer.  Time does not always permit, though, if the change is last minute.

While you are researching each firm or organization, you should also research the interviewers.  Lexis and Westlaw provide tools to conduct searches about attorneys, as well as firms.

What should I wear to an interview?
You should wear conservative attire to interviews – this includes your suit, shirt, ties, shoes and jewelry – similar to what you were required to wear at the LRW Appellate Arguments.  Although a firm might have a “business casual” dress policy for its employees, you should wear a conservative suit to all interviews.    The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about interviewing skills, including professional dress attire.  You can find The CSO Handbook here under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).

Where are initial screening interviews held?
Employers may choose to hold their initial screening interviews at the Law School or at the firm.  The location of the initial interview will be noted on the OCI listing.  Interviews to be held at the Law School will be held in Rooms 206 and 207 (make the left just after Room 204, before the stairway, to find the interview rooms.)

If the interview will be held at the firm, additional instructions may be sent to you from the CSO or the law firm recruiting office.  This may include details about parking, security check-in and where to report once inside a building.  Students should consider a test drive or walk to the firm location in order to give themselves ample travel time.  Firms conducting initial interviews at their offices are within a 10-minute walk from campus during normal traffic and weather conditions.

Where are call-back interviews held?
Call-back interviews most often are held at the law firm or organization.  Each firm conducts these interviews differently. These may include a panel of interviewers, multiple interviews with different individuals (1-on-1), group interviews with multiple attorneys and students and interviews during lunch.  Any interaction with the firm’s lawyers, recruiters or employees – from the time you enter the building to the time you leave a cocktail party –should be viewed as being part of the interview process.

How early should I arrive for an interview?
Regardless of the interview location, students should plan to arrive 10 minutes prior to their scheduled interview time.  While you are encouraged to give yourself ample time to walk or drive to the employer’s location, you should not check-in at the firm itself (e.g., the reception area, recruiter’s office, etc.) until 10 minutes prior to your interview.

Should I do a mock interview before the real interview takes place?
Yes.  The CSO’s formal mock interview with local attorneys takes place in the spring semester.  The CSO staff is available to conduct mock interviews by appointment by sending an email to comas@duq.edu.

Preparation is key.  While you don’t want to sound rehearsed, you should verbalize your answers to potential questions before the actual interview takes place so you can rework any answers you think sound awkward or otherwise not right.  While answering questions, remember that the interviewer is looking for someone who has the professional skills to do the job, who fits the job requirements and who wants the job.  Be engaged in the interview – be sure your nervousness doesn’t outshine your interest in the job and in the employer and take time to answer the questions asked of you.

Are resources available about interviewing skills?
Yes.  The CSO Resource Center includes many books and publications about interviewing skills.  The two most popular resources in recent years have been Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Walton and An Insider’s Guide to Interviewing: Insights from the Employer’s Perspective by NALP.  Multiple copies of Guerrilla Tactics are available for students to borrow from the CSO.  The CSO purchased enough copies of An Insider’s Guide for students to have their own copy of this informative booklet.  A complete listing of the items available in the CSO Resource Center can be found here under Career Resources or DuqLawConnect (under Resources), where you can also find The CSO Handbook that includes an Interviewing Skills chapter.

What else should I read as I prepare for interviews?
On a regular basis, you should read The National Law Journal (www.law.com), The Legal Intelligencer www.law.com/pa, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Law section published every Monday (www.postgazette.com), and the Pittsburgh Business Times (www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh).  Free copies of the Post-Gazette are available in the Student Lounge during the school year, and you can find the daily paper in the Center for Legal Information.  The CSO and Center for Legal Information have copies of the Pittsburgh Business Times available for review year-round.  Of course, if you are interested in another city or state, you should become familiar with the news in those areas.

Students are advised to become familiar with NALP’s “Student Professionalism During Interview Season: A Quick Guide to Your Ethical Responsibilities in the Offer and Decision Making Process” and “Open Letter To Law Students“.  Both of these publications offer valuable information about the interviewing process and timing guidelines that some firms follow.

Additional information about Fall Recruitment, including on-campus interviewing, can be found in the memo distributed via email on June 22, 2016.

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Fall 2016 Recruitment Information

Greetings from the Career Services Office (CSO)!  We hope that your summer has been productive and enjoyable so far.  This memo is designed to provide you with information about Fall Recruitment, including On-Campus Interviews, judicial clerkship deadlines, and other upcoming deadlines and programs.   Please read this entire document so you can be as informed as possible about upcoming fall recruitment activities.  Please contact Maria Comas (comas@duq.edu or 412-396-6279) with any questions you have about any of this information.

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Upcoming Job Fairs

** Students interested in attending a job fair should contact the Career Services Office in order to discuss the possibility of assistance with registration and travel expenses.  Please contact Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu or 412-396-6279 for more information. **

Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair (HDLJF) * August 5-6, 2016 * Kansas City, MO
Students who are interested in becoming part of Kansas City’s dynamic legal community should strongly consider attending this event.  Students who will be returning to school in August and those graduating in 2016 are eligible to attend the job fair, as employers will be interviewing for both summer and post-graduate positions.  The application deadline is June 24, 2016.   Additional information.

Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair for Law Students of Color * August 2, 2016 * Boston, MA
The BLG job fair provides members with access to qualified law students of color and assist them in implementing a well-rounded recruiting program and networking opportunities. Additional information and registration details can be found at www.thebostonlawyersgroup.com (under the 2016 Job Fair tab).  The application deadline is July 4, 2016, by 11:59 p.m.

Lavender Law Career Fair * August 4-6, 2016 * Washington, D.C.
The National LGBT Bar Association’s annual Lavender Law Career Fair is designed to achieve a sense of community and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) candidates within the legal profession’s recruiting efforts. By participating in the career fair, candidates will talk directly to LGBT-friendly recruiters from law firms, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate legal departments.  Additional information.

Hispanic National Bar Association Career Fair * September 9, 2016 * Boston, MA
The HNBA Career Fair is open to all law students. This year’s convention is poised to be one of the largest and most significant in HNBA’s history with numerous private and government employers from across the country attending. The Career Fair will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to meet and interview with some of the nation’s most respected law firms, companies, and government agencies. The HNBA Career Fair is also a unique and cost-effective way to find future employment or internships.   Law Students may apply for a HNBA Career Fair Travel Stipend geared towards reimbursing expenses for travel and lodging for out-of-state students, which must be submitted by July 15, 2016.   Additional information about the fair, registration and HNBA travel stipend.

Equal Justice Works Annual Conference and Career Fair * October 28-29, 2016 * Arlington, VA
The Equal Justice Works annual Conference and Career Fair is the largest national public interest career fair in the country.  More than 1,200 students from 165 law schools attend for two days of interviews, workshops, networking, and other career opportunities.  Public interest employers conduct interviews for internship and full-time positions and meet with students in informal “table talk” settings to discuss public interest legal opportunities.  The Conference and Career Fair also feature workshops on various public interest careers and job search advice, resume and cover letter review, mock interviews, and more.  For more information visit www.equaljusticeworks.org.

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Interview Prep Workshop

  • Do you find it difficult to talk about your experiences in a way that shows you’re confident in your abilities without sounding like you’re bragging or overstating them?
  • Do you find it difficult to give yourself enough credit for the experiences you’ve had (that those things actually do “count” and should be highlighted at the appropriate time)?
  • These are issues that many students struggle with as they prepare for interviews.
  • If these are issues that concern you, then plan on attending the Interview Prep Workshop next Thursday, April 21!

The workshop will feature a brief introduction on tips on how a law student can effectively promote his or her unique strengths in an interview situation. The students will then engage in a 45-minute small-group exercise in which students will respond to a prompt, receive feedback from the small group on the effectiveness of his or her presentation, and then continue to refine his or her presentation. The goal of the exercise is to help students become more confident in speaking about themselves in an engaging way and to step into the spotlight when the moment is right.

Alumni volunteers will work with students. This workshop will be facilitated by Guest Lecturer Alison Sulentic, a solo practitioner who formerly served as member of the full-time faculty from 1995-2007.

The workshop will be held on Thursday, April 21, from 4:30-6:00 p.m. in Room 414 of the Law School.

Space is limited to the first 20 students to RSVP on DuqLawConnect – Events tab.

Professional attire is required.  Refreshments provided.

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Family Law Program & Reception

The Allegheny County Bar Association Family Law Section Diversity Initiative invites all Duquesne Law students to “ALL in the Family: Building an Inclusive Family Law Practice and Section” to be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Rivers Club (One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street, Suite 411, Downtown).

 The Diversity Initiative was formed with the specific goal of identifying and assisting diverse attorneys and law students who have an interest in practicing Family Law.
The Honorable Kim Berkeley Clark, Administrative Judge of the Family Division, will offer a keynote speech followed by breakout sessions with family law practitioners and section members. Attorneys and students alike can learn more about the benefits of building a family law practice and how section membership can afford opportunities to cultivate professional relationships, as well as keep you abreast of the latest changes in Family Court and practice. This is a wonderful opportunity for law students to gain an introduction into the practice of family law and build mentoring relationships.
There is no charge for the event and includes hors d’oeuvres and one drink ticket. You do not have to be a Student Member of the ACBA in order to attend, but RSVP’s are required as space is limited. Register at www.acba.orgPlease inform Maria Comas (comas@duq.edu) if you plan to attend.

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Lawyers on Location: MSASafety

Friday, April 1, 12:45-2:45 p.m., Corporate Office

Students are invited to attend a “Lawyers on Location” luncheon and tour of MSA – The Safety Company’s Cranberry Township headquarters (www.MSAsafety.com ). Our host, Rick Roda (L’01), Associate General Counsel, Assistant Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer, will be there to answer questions, give advice and offer suggestions for you as you plan your legal career.  We will also be touring the facility.  This is an OUTSTANDING opportunity to build your network!

Transportation will not be provided for this event.  The company is located about 20 miles north of the Law School, with travel time of about 30 minutes – carpooling is encouraged.

The event is open to all students, and we encourage you to take advantage of the chance to learn more about the in-house counsel experience.  Lunch will be provided, and business attire is required.

Space is limited to the first 15 students who RSVP via DuqLawConnect (under the “Events” tab).  You will be contacted by the CSO with final details regarding the event when all RSVPs have been received.  Questions? Please contact Samantha Coyne, Employer Outreach Manager, at coynes1@duq.edu.

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