Your threads are getting shut down pretty quickly, so this appears to be my last shot. I’m writing this because prospective students and other people heading into OCIs read the forum and they should have a reasonable response to the anxiety in your threads in order for them to build their own healthy relationship to law school.
I think everyone has confirmed for you that you do not need an HH to get an OCI position. That’s statistically demonstrated in the UV surveys and every graduate of UT law will (and has) told you that we knew people with no HHs who got the same jobs as people with HHs. It’s been a few years since I dug into the stats, but while only 40-something percent get an OCI gig, something like 70+% of the people who toss in their name get interviews. That’s an extraordinarily high number - there is no other job I have known of other than medicine where such a huge number of graduates get a shot at top paying jobs. It may well depress you to know that buying the UT admission didn’t buy you a job, but relative to the world of options any of us could have faced, we all came out of law school with pretty remarkable employability, especially considering law school teaches so few skills.
It’s late August. If your year is anything like my year, you will find the halls of UT largely insufferable until call back day. Students will grow increasingly nervous. They will share greater and greater numbers of supposed ‘insider’ wisdom and little tricks like ‘Blakes likes people who wear straight colored ties; no design’ - that’s one a human being, a real live breathing human being who considers themselves smarter than your average anti-vaxxer, actually said to me. They actually thought a serious law firm had a secret tie color policy, like a caricature of skull & bones. The real truth is, as it almost always is, far more boring and straightforward: law firms may have grade floors, they may have flexible floors that can be impacted by your resume/life experience, but once OCIs start it’s just a question of whether you interview well and leave a good impression on people, as in literally every other job on the face of planet earth. Get this deep into your heads - law student job apps are not unique, they are just job interviews like any other, and the more you buy into the skull & bones image of Toronto law, the sillier you sound.
This is all a function of immaturity, crippling inability to deal with uncertainty (itself a function of inexperience in life), and, bizarrely, success. At law schools with very low biglaw rates, students do not experience the same kind of stress about grades or OCIs. It sounds weird to say that the higher your chances at something, the higher your anxiety, but with students it’s often true. The reason is that you’re not merely hoping to get a job or pay a bill, but actually trying to affirm your sense of self. We talk about law students as ‘type A’, but it’s far more accurate to say they’re just highly insecure and lack the life experience to contextualize unfamiliar developments. You walk out of undergrad seeing yourself as one of the smart kids, one of the success stories - then law school comes and there’s a meaningful risk you’ll have to reframe yourself as someone who isn’t always awarded the highest honors by whatever authority is standing nearby - scary! And what’s worse, half of your friends get to keep that identity as you watch it sail away. That’s far harder to swallow than if one out of twenty friends retains that identity.
So how to stay sane, happy, un-anxious and productive?
You need to recognize that the set of fears you’re treading in is quick sand. There is no set of secret buttons you can push to get As or get the job you want. There is no checklist. There is no secret another classmate knows that you don’t know, and the student who tells you they know the secret is masking their insecurity by feigning knowledge. There is no magic, no incantation, no study approach, no flash card trick, no reading selection method, nothing at all that will give you certainty. All you can do is your best, and the good news is that’s very often enough.
A prof is mean or another classmate cold? Son. You’re out here talking about your dream of being a bigshot corporate lawyer. Someone was mean to you? Boo hoo. Aren’t you trying to become the guy who fields furious calls from private equity clients at 11pm? None of us enjoys assholes, and I’m the first guy to tell you all of that shit should end, but you can’t really cry to me that you’re struggling in life over a prof being mean to you but also you deserve to represent some of the most notably asshole-ish clients on earth. If you can’t stay happy through a mean prof, why should I recommend hiring and putting you in front of a mean client? Sounds like a terrible idea. And this applies far wider than corporate law - you want to be a criminal defence lawyer? Want to handle divorces? Employment disputes? We have a job to do here, some people are going to be assholes and you need to be able to just set that aside and not take it personally in order to do your duty effectively.
School is hard? You don’t know if you’ll get an A? Son. You’re asking for a seat at the table of stress. You think school is hard, wait till you’re the only person really in charge of making sure $800,000,000 is transferred properly and correctly. Wait till someone’s liberty is on your shoulders. A child’s life.
I’ve written this spiel a bunch of times, but you need to reframe all of this in your head as something motivational. You want to be great at something? Good. It’s hard work and there’s stiff competition. Do you think Sidney Crosby was sad the first time he found a league he couldn’t score 280 points in? Or do you think he woke up and thought ‘great, I’m where I belong and I’m being challenged’? Take a look at yourself. Do you want to be the person who can only feel happy when they’re in a room they can dominate? Or are you the person who wants to grow, challenge and find their ceiling - actually flex the muscles of their ambition and capacity with real peers? Be the second guy. Not because it gets you riches, but because it’s more fun for you and everyone else in the room.
Do the right things. Exercise, take long breaks, smoke a joint and play video games...whatever is pleasurable. Be happy because life is happy - the sky is beautiful and rain feels nice and dogs are entertaining and strawberries are delicious. If you literally have zero friends, go make friends. Honestly, take a week to go camping and clear your head if you get too deep into the muck. Law will be here when you return.
Stop listening to the rumor mill. Stop paying attention to everyone else’s anxiety. Stop using the hallways as an echo chamber of fear and intrigue and judgment. For the love of sweet baby Jesus, stop believing that 2Ls have secret insider information on law firms - they barely know how to get to the buildings and much of the ‘knowledge’ they pass along sounds hilarious to practicing lawyers. But most important of all, stop letting your sense of self and identity get tied up with being a law student. You are not a law student, you are a human who happens to sometimes go to a law school. I am not a lawyer, I am Hoju and I spend too much of my time at a law firm. One day I will be Hoju-who-doesn’t-spend-too-much-time-at-a-law-firm. One day I will be Hoju-who-doesn’t-practice-law. One day after that I will be Hoju-who-is-dying. The only consistency is Hoju, everything else is just sauce. You are your interests, your loves, your creation, your intent, your actions and your thoughts, and only some of those do or should relate to being a student. Here’s the good news: being stable in your identity, having a healthy response to school, and managing challenges with motivation rather than anxiety are all things that will help you to succeed in our field much, much, much, so much more than one extra HH. I can’t tell you how much more.
This is where you come back and say “that’s all well and good but I have a practical problem in front of me where I need to get a job and the odds are uncertain”. Indeed they are and always will be - it’s entirely possible that OCIs is the time in your life when the odds you get some job you want are highest, but sure, I agree they are uncertain. That is precisely the reason your rock in the storm is your actual identity - you, a human, who among other things, happens to go to law school. Now that we’re back to square one, I’ll ask it again: Are you the human who wants to coast, or are you the human who wants to be challenged and to grow? You’re the latter. So enjoy it - you’ve finally found the right room.