« on: July 24, 2009, 11:58:32 AM »
For those of you going through the transfer transition now, I have provided an excerpt from the book that you may find useful. It is from the chapter SUCCEEDING AT YOUR NEW SCHOOL AND BEYOND. I hope it is useful and good luck at your new school.
DON'T LET OCI AFFECT YOUR 2L TRANSITION
Much of what follows is more of the I-wish-someone- had-told- us-this-
before variety. We learned the hard way.
Top grades at your Original 1L School and the leap to a higherranked
school really are an accomplishment. Truth be told, many if
not most students who transfer do so for better job opportunities.
More specifically, for the chance to be courted rather than having
to do the courting: OCI is exactly that, or at least it is as compared
to students not accepted to interview. The reason this is so vital is
that firms will generally only travel to a limited number of law
schools to interview. Nearly all firms will want a top student from
a top law school. So, the higher you go, in terms of law school
ranking, the more that is available in OCI. (And this is not a linear
progression. A top law school might get ten times the number of
firms interviewing than a school even a few dozen places lower in
the rankings, and the firms interviewing will be different as well.)
But you've made it into a higher-ranked law school, and so you
hope to benefit from the greater career opportunities.
Well, here is your chance. OCI! This can make or break your
summer job prospects if you want that "Big Law" summer job.
While some students find summer law jobs on their own, usually
with medium to smaller sized firms, the majority (as in 95+%) of
Big Law summer positions ("clerkships" ) go to law students
through the OCI process.
Here is the warning however: Do not let OCI take over your
first semester at your New 2L School. This is tricky, because OCI is
important. But in addition to your reading, outlining, stress, and
overall anxiety, you should also strive to fit into your new school.
So, our mantra for you: OCI is important, and you should participate
actively, but do not let it distract you from your first semester
at your New 2L School. We transfer students live in a different
world than the rest of 2L law students; we are the exceptions to the
rule. No, we are the exceptions proving the rule. The "rule" is the
2L who didn't have to transfer. For these students—the bulk of all
law students, your 2L grades do not matter as much as your 1L
grades. At times it seems that, for the "regular" 2L, grades are
almost an afterthought: it's the 1L grades that make or break them.
It was 1L grades that made you. As a transfer student, however,
employers want to see how you stack up against the student
body at your New 2L School. So they're a bit more hesitant, and
thus a bit more curious to make sure that we are as good in our
New 2L School as we were in our Old 1L one. For us transfers,
unlike for most 2Ls, our 2L grades are still important.
At one New 2L School, about one-quarter of the transfer students
received summer clerkship offers from OCI. Given that the
average 1L grades from successful transfer students is at or near
the very top of their 1L classes, this is a lower percentage than a
comparable group of 2L students from the 2L school. You should
thus have a mindset that, while you will certainly seize any OCI
opportunities, you might not receive a summer clerkship via OCI.
You'll thus have to work a bit harder—as with the transfer itself.
If you do wind up getting an OCI offer, great. But, if not, you'll
need to focus on grades and on finding your own post-2L job. This
is why it's important to stay on track with your reading and outlin-
and positioning yourself to receive the best 2L grades possible.
You need, in essence, to take exactly the same approach in 2L as you
did in 1L. Many 2Ls are not as serious in their second year, so this
is the chance for you to shine in your new school as well. This will
in turn maximize your chances of getting a summer position if you
have to find a job on your own once OCI passes; your 2L grades are
the first thing employers will look at. In sum, prepare yourself for
OCI, take advantage of OCI, be serious about OCI, but keep your eye
on the ball: your 2L grades.
With that by way of background, let's consider how some of the
details of the OCI process affect the transfer student:
Once admitted to your New 2L School, you should receive information
on how to access information on your new school's website or
intraweb. Usually, there's a special site, or a restricted area of the
main site, for students. Often it has a catchy name, so everyone at the school will know what such-and-so program means. At one school,
the site is called "Symplicity. " Whatever the name or variety of
access at your school, be sure that you've not been inadvertently forgotten: even if the staff is apologetic for any oversight, they likely won't be able to correct any harm if you miss deadlines or simply aren't aware of that school's programs. You should thus ask the
admissions office and career services office as soon as you are accepted: be sure that you know what's what.
Many law schools conduct the OCI process via their web-based
program. Often, the programs work in very much a technical way: a
student "bids" on an employer (either for an interview or for a
chance for an interview), and only a certain number of interviews
are actually granted.
Point #1: This is a competitive process. For most potential employers,
there are more students who want to be interviewed than there are
interview slots. Most firms conduct only a dozen or so interviews—
as compared to hundreds who would be happy for the chance to
work there. So, right from the start this is intensely competitive.
Thus, you should bid assertively, and for many firms. Don't bid on
firms you definitely wouldn't be interested in (which shouldn't be
many), and do consider even opportunities you might not otherwise
have thought of. At the very least, each interview is an opportunity
to practice your interviewing skills.
Point #2: Be sure to include your transfer school in your résumé
when applying for jobs for OCI. Yes, your profile will be a little odd
as compared to the "average" 2L student, so you need to be especially
careful to highlight your positive qualities while being clear about
your 1L and 2L schools. Once you receive grades from your New 2L
School you do not have to include your Original 1L School on your
résumé. For OCI, you do—and will want to. Spotlight your terrific
Point #3: Don't go into this process defensive about your 1L law
school. After all, you did very, very well there. Keep a positive
mindset, and chances are good that prospective employers will too.
Point #4: Pay attention. Each employer has its own expectations,
both substantive (as to grades, etc.) and stylistic (what they want to
see). You cannot treat each OCI employer as a "one size fits all"
possibility. That's easier, of course, but it's not smart. Assess what
each employer is asking for. Some employers ask for a résumé only,
some ask for a résumé and transcript, some ask for a résumé, cover
letter, and transcript. Some include information on who will be
interviewing. (Of course, if that information is given, it's far better to personalize what you're submitting. It takes just minutes, and it can make the difference, especially with a borderline bid.) Further, tailor each bid to at least some detail specific to that employer. If they have a big labor law practice and you worked in a union, that's worth mentioning. (They might represent management rather than labor, but it will give them something unique to go on; chances are very good they would at least be curious—i.e., more likely inclined to interview you.) If they're on Wall Street and you're worked in a brokerage firm, of course you want to mention that, probably in a cover letter as well as highlighted in your résumé. Don't stretch any fact too far, and be careful not to limit yourself: it's a fine balance, but you want to make yourself stand out (in a good way) to the hiring partners.
Point #5: Think about geography. Where do you want to practice? If
you already know (and are certain of that choice), bid only on the
firms from that locale. Don't take away someone else's interview if
you're flat-out going to waste the interviewer' s (and your own) time.
If you do not have a specific city or area set in stone, bid on all the firms you can. You should cast your net as wide as possible: many
employers prefer students who have grades from the school where
the OCI is being done. After all, that's why they're there. While you
have impressive grades, they are grades from your Original 1L
School. Employers have a tough time comparing you to other
students at your New 2L School because your grades came from a
different law school with a different student body and most likely, a
different grading curve. Being different—even if not perceived as
"bad"—is still a negative. With many students to choose from, they
might shy away from transfers. As mentioned, until you get your
new grades at your New 2L School and prove yourself (again), there
can be a stigma against transfers in the OCI process because of an
assumption of a low LSAT score. Yes, not everyone who attends a
Tier 4 law school has a below-par LSAT score; one may attend for a
part time program or for personal reasons. That's the assumption,
however, so it's best to understand and attempt to deal with it.