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conothing

No 2L Job After OCI

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Posted (edited)

Hi all, 

I know frantic law students post about this time and time again, but I guess I am looking for a bit more personal and current insight. I'm meeting with career services at school next week, but just need to unleash my growing anxiety somehow beforehand as it feels as though I am having a mild mental breakdown.

Recently went through the 2L Ottawa Recruit. I applied to around 15 places (I think there were around 20 to apply to, but couldn't apply to any firms requiring a bilingual student), had 9 OCIs and 1 non-oci in-firm. After OCI's I got 2 more in-firms for a total of 3. Unfortunately, as the title states, I didn't end up with an offer. 

I totally understand that OCIs are kind of a crap-shoot, and I keep telling myself that I did my best and the lack of a call does not reflect on my abilities, but it's just not connecting. I cannot stop crying. I'm in the top 10% of my class, nothing lower than a B+, but I have no extracurriculars besides some minor volunteer research work for a couple profs. I realize now that I probably made a huge mistake not having any ECs, but I was working during first year and my stupid self thought I could still land a job if I got good enough grades to cancel it out. Now that I am in second year, I'm having a horrible time trying to find ECs to do. 

My interview skills pre-law school were not great, and although I feel like I've improved a ton, I definitely do find that I have a hard time selling myself during the informal interviews big law firms tend to give as I'm naturally sort of a quiet/humble person. I thought I had developed a good rapport with my in-firm interviewers, but evidently, maybe not. Or maybe I did and the lack of ECs was a killer? 

I went to law school because I have a science background and totally thought IP law was a pretty realistic possibility. The reality was that it wasn't, or at least isn't for big-law firms, because I only have a bachelors, and it's in chem, not engineering. Luckily I love all my other classes and find other areas of law interesting, but I definitely did not expect to be struggling this much, so maybe part of this is just me not properly managing my expectations. 

I'd like to stay in Ottawa if I can as I have a partner here and am pretty well settled. But if you guys think I have little chance of finding an Ottawa job and should be looking elsewhere, please let me know. As for my interests... I love health law, but also into IP, employment law, immigration, civil lit, maaaaybe crim. But I'm honestly just desperate for experience and will work anywhere. 

So, questions:

1. Does anyone with knowledge of the ottawa legal market know whether 2L jobs will still pop up post-OCI?

2. Should I cold email/call that didn't participate in OCIs to see if they are hiring? From what I hear, a lot of firms in Ottawa don't have the resources to hire summer students and usually just hire articling students....so I don't know if it's just annoying/pointless for me to be sending in my resume and asking. I figure it's worth a shot, but let me know.

3. Should I be panicked?  Or do I need to calm the hell down?

4. Does anyone have any ideas on how to buff my resume EC wise this late in the game?

 

Edited by conothing
Forgot to add 4th question
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I can't speak to the Ottawa market or how or who to reach out to regarding jobs, but yes you should calm down. I don't think ECs are your issue - you made it through OCIs and into in-firms. While maybe your lack of ECs became an issue during interviews because your interviewers did not find enough for you to talk about, I doubt it. When I interview candidates, I'm not paying attention to how many or the quality of ECs.

You should talk to your career services and try and set up some interview practice (with them or with perhaps colleagues that you can trust and/or lawyers you may know) and get real, critical feedback about how you come across. You're getting through the pre-screening which is where ECs might matter - where you seem to be having some trouble is in making that final connection. If not too late, you can try reaching out to the recruiter at the firms where you made it the farthest and ask for some feedback. There's a chance they may provide you with some that you can build on.

Also again, calm down. You're a good candidate as evidenced by your grades and ability to get in-firms. You've already finished the hardest part. You can improve your interview skills and conversational skills. You can't improve bad grades.

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Agreed with @Rashabon  I don't know about Ottawa specifically but I would be shocked if it would be that much different from other places in that you are still in 2L with a couple months to go and I imagine that there will be lots of articling positions available between now and the end of 3L. It sounds like you are fine at the screening stage but may need to work on sealing the deal. Also, I don't know whether it's a lack of ECs specifically, but you do need interesting things to talk about in interviews, and to feel confident that you have interesting things to talk about. 

I'm surprised that you can't find ECs to do in 2L and don't understand why that would be the case. You can't join a club/group or try out for a moot or help out PBSC or something? If you really can't do ECs in law school, can you join things in the broader university or community? Do anything interesting that appeals to you - learn a language, play a sport, take an art class. Are you reading for pleasure? Following the news? Following pop culture? Following local teams? These are the kinds of things interviewers use to build rapport with candidates. 

Are you selling enough that you worked in 1L and still got top 10% grades? That is not something everyone can do and speaks well to your work ethic. 

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1 hour ago, providence said:

Are you selling enough that you worked in 1L and still got top 10% grades? That is not something everyone can do and speaks well to your work ethic. 

I was going to say the same thing. That's more impressive to me than the candidate who made DL after 1L while doing 2 hours of volunteering a week for PBSC. 

What was your job? Did it involve high pressure? Time management? Client management? These are things to highlight as soft skills you have that you'll bring as a worker in law.

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11 hours ago, conothing said:

I'd like to stay in Ottawa if I can as I have a partner here and am pretty well settled. But if you guys think I have little chance of finding an Ottawa job and should be looking elsewhere, please let me know. As for my interests... I love health law, but also into IP, employment law, immigration, civil lit, maaaaybe crim. But I'm honestly just desperate for experience and will work anywhere. 

So, questions:

1. Does anyone with knowledge of the ottawa legal market know whether 2L jobs will still pop up post-OCI? I don't know enough about your market. However, there are a number of 2L jobs that come up after the formal OCI recruits in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

2. Should I cold email/call that didn't participate in OCIs to see if they are hiring? From what I hear, a lot of firms in Ottawa don't have the resources to hire summer students and usually just hire articling students....so I don't know if it's just annoying/pointless for me to be sending in my resume and asking. I figure it's worth a shot, but let me know. It does not hurt to do so if you do it politely. The worst outcome you can expect is a hard no.

3. Should I be panicked?  Or do I need to calm the hell down? Absolutely not. The artilcing recruit is in less than 6 months. In the grand scheme of things, not getting a summer job is not going to make or break your legal career. If what you're saying about yourself is true, you have a strong work ethic and have the capacity to do well. Don't worry so much about the short-term setbacks and focus on what you can do to increase your marketability. As is said among lawyers, a legal career is a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Does anyone have any ideas on how to buff my resume EC wise this late in the game? If you got to the in-firm stage, there's probably nothing wrong with your resume. A few extra superficial ECs aren't going to make a difference. 

 

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I’ve heard a lot of firms say that they’re looking for strong candidates who have a demonstrated interested in the firm. In other words, they want candidates who explicitly show that the firm is their number one choice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not being quite as clear on that as someone else. In a competitive market like Ottawa where you’ve got 18-20 in-firm candidates for 2-5 positions, something as silly as explicitly saying the firm is your top choice is enough.

It’s also sometimes a matter of finding a fit with the interviewers. I think it’s much more of a “fit” evaluation during the in-firm than about the qualifications. Every student there is qualified and brings in different kinds and levels of experience. The firms are looking at whether they can see themselves working with the students. Something as little as how you introduce yourself can throw an interviewer off.

 

Needless to say that unless your interview skills are truly sub-par, it was likely something silly that made the difference between you and someone else. I second the comment about checking in with the career development office for feedback and tips.

 

As for what happens next, keep working hard at school and outside of school and prove them why you’re worth hiring. Your opportunity is coming.

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44 minutes ago, SeniorLopez247 said:

It’s also sometimes a matter of finding a fit with the interviewers. I think it’s much more of a “fit” evaluation during the in-firm than about the qualifications. Every student there is qualified and brings in different kinds and levels of experience. The firms are looking at whether they can see themselves working with the students. Something as little as how you introduce yourself can throw an interviewer off.

Not to hijack this thread, but I'm in a similar situation as the OP. A lot of interviews and invited back to multiple social events only to be rejected on call day. I am more uncomfortable with social events than interviews, so can someone comment on what kind of behaviour can put a student below the offer cut off? Recruiters' feedback is simply "everyone liked you, it's just a competitive process with limited spots," so I assume they won't comment on any annoying mannerisms. 

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Having a a bit of experience in recruitment (not in a firm) i think I can comment a little on this. 

If you make it into in firms, congratulations! It means you are good on paper, you are also good at socializing and can make a good conversation with people you just met without being too nervous.

now from in firm to offer, you need to check one or more of these qualities. 1. You are extremely socialable, great at conversations, always know when to say what. Think about the very good sales people you have met, how they make you very comfortable even when you know they are trying to sell you something. 2. Extremely smart, you can answer question straight to the point, relate to past experiences and know what your interviewers are really asking for each question. Answering in a very thoughtful, concise and honest way would leave a great impression. 3. Great connections at the firm and people vouch for you. This goes a long way. You still need to have a combation of 1 and 2. 4. You fit the firm’s diversity needs plus a combination of 1 and 2.

i think it goes without saying you must know your resume inside and out, but many people don’t have great stories, or don’t spend enough time on them to make them interesting. In firms are your opportunities to throw a sales pitch, there are people who are naturally good at selling. If you want to beat them, you must practice, practice and practice. The differences between candidates are really hair splitting at this stage. It’s like going from A to A+, to get that extra 2% you have to work for it.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, conothing said:

Hi all, 

I know frantic law students post about this time and time again, but I guess I am looking for a bit more personal and current insight. I'm meeting with career services at school next week, but just need to unleash my growing anxiety somehow beforehand as it feels as though I am having a mild mental breakdown.

Recently went through the 2L Ottawa Recruit. I applied to around 15 places (I think there were around 20 to apply to, but couldn't apply to any firms requiring a bilingual student), had 9 OCIs and 1 non-oci in-firm. After OCI's I got 2 more in-firms for a total of 3. Unfortunately, as the title states, I didn't end up with an offer. 

I totally understand that OCIs are kind of a crap-shoot, and I keep telling myself that I did my best and the lack of a call does not reflect on my abilities, but it's just not connecting. I cannot stop crying. I'm in the top 10% of my class, nothing lower than a B+, but I have no extracurriculars besides some minor volunteer research work for a couple profs. I realize now that I probably made a huge mistake not having any ECs, but I was working during first year and my stupid self thought I could still land a job if I got good enough grades to cancel it out. Now that I am in second year, I'm having a horrible time trying to find ECs to do. 

My interview skills pre-law school were not great, and although I feel like I've improved a ton, I definitely do find that I have a hard time selling myself during the informal interviews big law firms tend to give as I'm naturally sort of a quiet/humble person. I thought I had developed a good rapport with my in-firm interviewers, but evidently, maybe not. Or maybe I did and the lack of ECs was a killer? 

I went to law school because I have a science background and totally thought IP law was a pretty realistic possibility. The reality was that it wasn't, or at least isn't for big-law firms, because I only have a bachelors, and it's in chem, not engineering. Luckily I love all my other classes and find other areas of law interesting, but I definitely did not expect to be struggling this much, so maybe part of this is just me not properly managing my expectations. 

I'd like to stay in Ottawa if I can as I have a partner here and am pretty well settled. But if you guys think I have little chance of finding an Ottawa job and should be looking elsewhere, please let me know. As for my interests... I love health law, but also into IP, employment law, immigration, civil lit, maaaaybe crim. But I'm honestly just desperate for experience and will work anywhere. 

So, questions:

1. Does anyone with knowledge of the ottawa legal market know whether 2L jobs will still pop up post-OCI?

2. Should I cold email/call that didn't participate in OCIs to see if they are hiring? From what I hear, a lot of firms in Ottawa don't have the resources to hire summer students and usually just hire articling students....so I don't know if it's just annoying/pointless for me to be sending in my resume and asking. I figure it's worth a shot, but let me know.

3. Should I be panicked?  Or do I need to calm the hell down?

4. Does anyone have any ideas on how to buff my resume EC wise this late in the game?

 

You don't think there are small and medium sized firms you can work at in Ottawa that do health law, IP, employment, immigration, civil litigation, family, etc.? OCIs account for a very small subsection of jobs and they're heavily focused on Biglaw. You don't think you can find a job at ANY firm doing ANY area of law in Ottawa by the time you graduate from law school, since you seem to be open to doing ANYTHING so long as it's in Ottawa?

I'll give you a word of advice moving forward. The Biglaw recruit is done for the most part. If you want to land an articling position, it'll be mainly small and medium sized employers that participate in this process, and they will look for demonstrated interest in the one or two areas of law that they practice in. You need to do some self-reflection and narrow your profile down because if I was an employer, I wouldn't hire a student that lacks focus and just wants a job and is willing to do anything. 

If your grades are that good, then there are also clerkships you could apply to. You need to chill out. There are people with average and below average grades in law school landing jobs. Having grades in the top of your class does not guarantee you a job and as a grown person, you need to improve your emotional intelligence at this point because it's not going to get any easier once you start working in the legal field. 

Edited by Deadpool
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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, conothing said:

As for my interests... I love health law, but also into IP, employment law, immigration, civil lit, maaaaybe crim. But I'm honestly just desperate for experience and will work anywhere. 

37 minutes ago, Deadpool said:

You don't think there are small and medium sized firms you can work at in Ottawa that do health law, IP, employment, immigration, civil litigation, family, etc.? OCIs account for a very small subsection of jobs and they're heavily focused on Biglaw. You don't think you can find a job at ANY firm doing ANY area of law in Ottawa by the time you graduate from law school, since you seem to be open to doing ANYTHING so long as it's in Ottawa?

I'll give you a word of advice moving forward. The Biglaw recruit is done for the most part. If you want to land an articling position, it'll be mainly small and medium sized employers that participate in this process, and they will look for demonstrated interest in the one or two areas of law that they practice in. You need to do some self-reflection and narrow your profile down because if I was an employer, I wouldn't hire a student that lacks focus and just wants a job and is willing to do anything. 

23 hours ago, conothing said:

4. Does anyone have any ideas on how to buff my resume EC wise this late in the game?

 

Keep in mind that I'm only an articling student, so I'll defer to practicing lawyers who have hired and actually know what they're talking about. But I agree with Deadpool that outside the formal recruit, demonstrated interest gets more important (although I disagree that the formal recruit is done -- there was still a formal hiring process in my 2L summer and I suspect there still is now). I've heard that being a top student without much practical experience is great at big firms -- they take on enough clients with complex files and deep pockets that they can afford to hire super smart students who write spot-on memos all day.

The places I was applying to didn't seem to have that luxury. They generally seemed to want someone who could stand on their own feet. They were looking for someone with enough basic experience doing client interviews, writing letters, and working in their area of law, that they could delegate simple tasks and trust that it could be taken care of without handholding at every step of the way.

Everyone wants a second year job, and if you get one between now and May/June, then great. But your ultimate goal is articling, because you need to fulfill your licencing requirements. I really don't think you need to freak out about that: a top ten percent student will get articles. But if I were you, I'd start accumulating some practical experience before graduation. It could help you secure a position. It could help you narrow down what you want to do beyond almost all the areas of litigation (working at a clinic or something is a great way to figure out whether you'll like tribunal work, crim etc or not). And, it could help you gather some basic skills that will make you more useful during articles. 

Edited by realpseudonym

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Posted (edited)

Yeah,  your interests do sound a bit scattered and vague and one of the benefits of ECs is that they can help you clarify and demonstrate what areas of law you might be interested in. So you need to figure that out and tailor your resume a bit more to appeal to your target areas of practice. If you don't have a firm job this summer, try to get an RA job in an area of law you may want to practice in. Pick 3L courses that suggest an area of interest as well (and a realistic area, not IP if the IP recruit is done, etc.)

Edited by providence

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, providence said:

 Also, I don't know whether it's a lack of ECs specifically, but you do need interesting things to talk about in interviews, and to feel confident that you have interesting things to talk about. 

 

One point that doesn't get emphasized enough on this forum is the importance of extracurriculars in 1L, and not just any extracurriculars but those that give you transferable skills. That puts clinics at the top of the list followed by moots. A while ago I spent a few hours looking at the profiles of incoming summer students and almost all of them had at least a clinic. The best had the clinic/moot team holy grail combo.

Edited by harveyspecter993
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1 hour ago, harveyspecter993 said:

One point that doesn't get emphasized enough on this forum is the importance of extracurriculars in 1L, and not just any extracurriculars but those that give you transferable skills. That puts clinics at the top of the list followed by moots. A while ago I spent a few hours looking at the profiles of incoming summer students and almost all of them had at least a clinic. The best had the clinic/moot team holy grail combo.

This could just as easily be a correlation =/= causation thing. The top students who get the firm positions are also going to get the moot and clinic positions. 

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^ and I can't think of a single moot (other than our 1L fun moot) or clinic available to 1Ls at my school. 

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Posted (edited)

 

6 hours ago, easttowest said:

^ and I can't think of a single moot (other than our 1L fun moot) or clinic available to 1Ls at my school. 

Osgoode has several of each in 1L.

@chaboywb I've responded via PM

Edited by harveyspecter993

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8 hours ago, easttowest said:

^ and I can't think of a single moot (other than our 1L fun moot) or clinic available to 1Ls at my school. 

U of T has clinics for 1Ls (but a relatively limited number of spaces) and I don't know how many spots for 1L mooting as it currently stands (last year there were only about 20, but I think there is an additional moot this year). For what its worth, I got an OCI job with neither in my 1L, though I am taking a clinical course now. 

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12 hours ago, easttowest said:

^ and I can't think of a single moot (other than our 1L fun moot) or clinic available to 1Ls at my school. 

Same, we have none at UBC for 1Ls. They're all for upper years.

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Western has a ton of moots during the year, and I think first years can do all but a couple of them. I had friends doing at least 6+ in their first year (maybe even as many as 8-10). 

But I don't know if that's necessarily the problem. Certainly firms like ECs, but I had plenty of friends with good grades get jobs without them. I think firms like hearing you talk about something relevant to their practice with knowledge and enthusiasm. So if you can't draw on clinic experience or moots, some in-depth research in an area of law that a firm practices, and the firm itself, should be able to get you there. Lawyers are evidence-based creatures, and everything you say/claim in an interview should be supported by something you've done. 

As everyone has said, by the final stages, firms would be happy with most of the students on their list, and have to differentiate you in some way. I've found that "fit" means mostly how much someone wants to work with you (or, in the student context, how much someone wants to have you work for them). Enthusiasm for both the work and the firm goes a long way there, and I'd almost say that it was necessary to get a job. Because if you don't show it, someone else will. 

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Posted (edited)

I'll offer my two cents for what it's worth as someone who came out the other side in the Ottawa market. 

First off, where you are right now is totally normal. Lots of students apply for OCIs. A few get the job; most don't. It can definitely be stressful and uncertain but there are many people in your situation right now (even if they don't share it). 

It also isn't a reflection of your worth. A lot of times it is just luck. I went to so many interviews where I heard "you were great, but we went with someone else" or "If we had another opening, we would have hired you." Sometimes it isn't about whether your marks were higher or you did more ECs as much as it is the guy they hired went to the same alma mater as the recruiter or partner so-and-so promised their nephew a summer job. As Scar said in the Lion King, "life's not fair". 

Jobs will certainly come up between now and the summer. Often it will be smaller firms that don't shore up their funding until closer to. Keep an eye open on firm websites, The Source, OBA job board, CCLA job board, networking groups, Law Job Exchange (if that's still around), etc. 

Personally, I did a ton of cold call emails when I was looking for articling and received zero response. That's not to say they might not eventually hire or know someone who is hiring, so it could be worth a try. 

Re: ECs. Only do it if it is something you are genuinely interested in. I think it is much more important to do a few things you actually care about then to try to do everything to look good on paper. In my experience, the ECs didn't really matter. Firms I met with cared more about my interest in them or their field of law, my commitment, or what school I went to. 

I wish you the best of luck. Things will turn around!

Edited by Ophelia
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Posted (edited)
On 3/1/2019 at 9:39 PM, conothing said:

3. Should I be panicked?  Or do I need to calm the hell down?

Relax.

I don't know how recently OCIs occurred, but take some time after to enjoy yourself. Don't beat yourself up. I remember the feeling of striking out at OCIs. It is a bad feeling. Don't put a lot of stake in this unnecessarily harsh feedback:

On 3/2/2019 at 8:11 PM, Deadpool said:

as a grown person, you need to improve your emotional intelligence at this point because it's not going to get any easier once you start working in the legal field. 

I don't know anyone who struck out at OCIs and easily dusted themselves off and went "Whelp, not a big deal, guess I'll move on". It hurts to invest a lot of time an effort into something you have a strong desire for and come up empty. That hurt--and recognizing and acknowledging it--has little to do with a low emotional intelligence.

That said, it is also an unfortunate truth that you have to pick yourself off and get right back into the job hunt. So after you've taken some time for yourself since you probably worked very hard through applications, OCIs, and in-firms (while also keeping aware of any application deadlines for other opportunities like clerkships and summer positions) you need to assess what's out there and you need to develop a strategy. But you'll be fine.

Meanwhile, you also should take the advice above about getting involved. Finding extra-curriculars to "buff your resume" is a terrible approach. Figure out your genuine interests and pursue them.

I'm highly skeptical, however, about someone who states they "love health law,  but also into IP, employment law, immigration , civil  lit" yet has absolutely nothing to reflect it. I had a specific legal interest in law school. I edited the journal on that legal area, wrote a blog about it, was a member and executive of the relevant clubs, and I mooted several times on it. If you can't find extra-curriculars that reflect your genuine interests, I don't believe that you've genuinely tried.

Or else, these legal areas might not be your genuine interests. Consider that, too. I never called any of my above involvement "resume buffers". I just did them because I wanted to.

Edited by FineCanadianFXs
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