OK, you are ready for that fabulous office in the law firm of your choice in the city of your dreams. GREAT!!! But you have to get through OCI first. We all know what that means…OCI bidding.
Law firms do the majority of their recruiting through the OCI process so if you want to work at a law firm, you probably need to participate. One of the things that causes fear and trepidation for rising 2Ls is the bidding strategy. Hopefully bidding is not a new concept to you and you attended the THREE OCI programs during the spring semester. Also hopefully, you are reading all the Career Connect newsletters being sent to you from Ali Wruble because they are full of very useful information. I am sure you already know that New York, Dallas, and all the off campus TLC programs are 100% pre-select, so we will not be discussing those programs here. The focus of this blog post is on- campus interviews on the Notre Dame campus.
Let’s talk strategy…
Firms that come to campus to interview agree to fill 30% of their interview slots with lottery candidates, or candidates they did not preselect. The firm will get all the materials you submit and the firm will choose 70% of the people to interview.
The first thing you have to remember is that only qualified applicants will be considered for the lottery. The firm sets the qualifications and we follow them without exception. If the firm requires a 3.5 and a journal but you have a 3.49 and moot court, you will not be considered in the lottery. Make sure you don’t throw away bid rankings!
Since only 30% of slots are filled through the lottery, there are a small number of spots. A typical interview day will have 23 slots, 16 of which will be selected by the employer and 7 assigned via lottery. If you are really interested in one of the big Chicago firms, you will have to use your #1 bid to have a chance at making the lottery. But should you?
Let’s look at Ropes & Gray as an example. Since R&G does not have a grade cut off, students will not be disqualified on the basis of grades. (I am using grades because that is the easiest criterion to explain the point.) In 2017, 106 people bid on Ropes & Gray for the 7 available lottery spots. Obviously, some of them were preselected by the firm, but we are looking at 90+ people who hoped to get one of the 7 lottery spots. If you have a 3.1, you could get the lottery spot, but what are the real chances of converting the interview to a job? (In case you are missing my subtext, let me be plain…the chances are not great!)
Please understand me, I am not trying to tell you not to apply to Ropes & Gray with a 3.1. There might be many reasons that R&G would want to talk with you which is why they have the opportunity to pre-select 70% of their interviews. R&G is a very selective firm and the fact that there is not a grade cutoff does not change this. I am asking you to really consider the best use of those top rankings.
Do your research! When I look at the SBA Career Contact List which is linked on the Resource Center, I only see 5 people who were employed between 2015—2018 at R&G. Since we are talking about a large market and a large firm, you can see that this might not be the best bid for someone with a lower GPA. If R&G is your absolute favorite firm and you want to work there above all places in Chicago, then pick it number one. If you are only using your #1 because it is a great firm in Chicago that does not list a grade qualification, you might want to think this through a little more. (Also, remember that firms do not see your bid rankings, so you are not hurting your chances for a pre-selected interview by not ranking the firm #1 for you bids.)
You don’t want to waste your top rankings. Know who you are and what you want. Do the research on firms that interest you. Look at NALP, Chambers, Vault, Bloomberg and other sources. Talk to alumni or current students who work in those firms. As much as we all hate that grades matter so much to law firms, they do. You need to understand what your grades mean in the market. Be informed and realistic. Consider the size and culture of the firm. Forget the false notion of prestige because prestigious does not mean it is the right fit for you! If you find a place where you are happy, you will be more successful so look for that fit.
You should make a strategy before you bid. Use 2017 OCI Bidding Volume Sheet to see how students used their bids last year as starting point. Then move into more thorough research to see if a firm might be a fit for you. Before OCI bidding opens, you should know where you intend to put your top bid rankings. Do the pre-work or you could be wasting a really good opportunity.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to a CDO counselor. We are happy to assist you!