Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is a fall interview program?
Legal employers go to law schools nationwide during August, September and October to interview applicants for jobs starting the following summer or fall. Employers may also request that we collect resumes from interested students or have students contact employers directly to schedule interviews at their office.
2) How does a student prepare for the fall interview program?
Preparation begins in the summer. Research participating employers and conduct informational interviews to identify employers who best match your interests and career goals.
Revise your resume (see Resume handout) and have it reviewed by a career adviser. If you have had your resume reviewed previously, you can email your resume to your assigned career adviser. If not, you will have to make an appointment with your adviser to have it reviewed. Appointments fill up early, so we advise you to make an appointment in late June or early July, if possible. If you are a 3L and participated in Fall OCI last year, you do not need to have your resume reviewed although we advise it. All resumes must be reviewed and uploaded into Symplicity by noon on July 25, 2013.
Read the Career Development Handouts. These will give you assistance on resume preparation, interviewing techniques and resources available to research potential employers.
Polish your interviewing skills. Do a mock interview the week of August 5, 2013. Formulate your answers to the standard interview questions that employers usually ask (See Career Development Handouts -- Interviewing and Thank You Notes and Callback Interviews) and prepare the questions you want to ask of the employer.
3) What kinds of legal recruiters participate in fall interview programs?
LAW FIRMS: Generally, large and mid-size law firms participate. These employers can establish their hiring needs a year in advance. Occasionally, smaller firms will participate if they know they will need a new associate a year in advance or if they plan to hire summer research clerks. The vast majority of law firms--those with 2-25 attorneys--do not participate in structured on-campus interview programs. Instead, they recruit when they need to fill immediate openings.
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: Federal, state, and local government agencies recruit for their summer intern program, graduate honor program (not all agencies have these) or for entry-level attorney positions.
Please note: In the past, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) has made arrangements to interview graduating students who have previously worked for them whether or not the students meet the stated hiring criteria. Graduating students interested in working for the CCSAO must register for an on-campus interview to obtain consideration for employment. In addition, the City of Chicago Dept. of Law has a City of Chicago residency requirement for all of its law clerks and new attorneys at the time of hire. Also, 3Ls interested in working for the SEC must apply through the fall interview program to be considered for an entry level attorney position.
CORPORATE LAW DEPARTMENTS: Corporate law departments seldom hire attorneys directly out of law school and most do not participate in on-campus interviews.
4) I am a first or second year evening student. Should I be concerned now about the fall interview program?
Evening students should participate during the fall of their third year. Evening students complete the core law school classes at the end of the second year. Employers seek this core knowledge and prefer evening students to join the summer associate class one year before their graduation.
5) What is a summer associate position and is it the same as a law clerk job?
A summer associate program is a specially structured program found at many midsize and large firms. Summer associates have the opportunity to do the same type of work first year associates do--research and writing--under the supervision of various attorneys in the firm. Summer associates may have the opportunity to be involved in research and writing assignments while assisting in other tasks as well.
If the firm likes the work of a summer associate and there is a good match between the student and firm, it may offer an entry level associate position to that student. This offer may come at the end of the summer or early in the fall of the student's final year. Employers who run summer associate programs anticipate that they will fill most of the new associate positions from their summer associate classes.
6) I am an evening division student with a full-time job who will graduate in 2015. Why should I consider interviewing next fall for a summer associate position?
If your academic credentials are excellent and you have an interest in employment with a firm that offers such a program, a summer associate position could be extremely valuable to your career development. A summer associate position gives you a much better chance of securing a full-time associate position with the same firm after graduation.
In recent years, interview opportunities with large law firms for graduating students have been limited because summer associates have filled the hiring needs of the employers. Many of the fall recruiters, if pleased with your work during the summer, may not only offer you an associate position but may arrange to have you work for them during your last year of law school to offset the loss of income from your prior employment. Although you are taking a risk in leaving your current employment to work during the summer, that risk could pay off in the end. You may also consider asking for a leave of absence from your current employer for the length of the program (typically 10 to 12 weeks).
7) What kinds of credentials are fall recruiters seeking?
Because fall recruiters usually interview at 10-20 campuses across the country, the competition for positions is extremely high. Generally, fall recruiters are seeking students with a high class rank and/or other distinguishing academic credentials. Employers may require criteria ranging from the top 50% to the top 15% to the top 5%. Law Review and Moot Court Society are two credentials that many large law firms prefer. Other firms, such as several large insurance defense firms, often put great emphasis on other work experience such as medical training or insurance work. Patent firms, of course, want a technical background such as electrical or chemical engineering. Accounting firms seek law students who have had some undergraduate accounting courses or who are C.P.A.s.
All students should review the list of participating employers, available on Symplicity after July 8, 2013 to see if their credentials match the requirements of any of these potential employers. If you do not meet the hiring criteria of a law firm you are interested in, please refer to question 11 for suggestions and options.
Once you are logged in to the system, click on the "OCI" tab to view participating employers. Then click on the "Review" tab next to each employer to view the employer's schedule, hiring criteria, and additional information about the employer.
8) Why do recruiters interview and hire many more second year students than third year students?
Large and midsize law firms tend to fill most of their beginning associate needs from their previous year's summer associate program. Those firms that have very successful summer associate programs do not need to recruit many, if any, third year students. Therefore, they focus on hiring second year students to fill future hiring needs.
9) What if I fall just outside of an employer's hiring criteria?
You are only able to bid on Symplicity on employers whose hiring criteria you meet. However, you may prepare a list of on-campus employers (only those with an interview date at Chicago-Kent) for which you are within 10% of the required hiring criteria. This list should include your name, GPA and class rank at the top of the page, and you should list those employers you are interested in submitting a resume to but fall just outside of the hiring criteria (within 10%). You must submit this list to the Career Services Office by noon on Thursday, August 1. Our office will forward employers the resumes of these students who are within 10% of the hiring criteria.
Also, if you fall outside of the hiring criteria, but feel that you have compelling reasons or qualifications that warrant consideration, you are welcome to contact the recruiting administrator or hiring attorney directly. Send a persuasive cover letter and resume requesting to be added to their on-campus schedule, or to interview at their office. If they choose to add you to their interviewing schedule, they will contact our office and you will be emailed regarding your interview time.
Often, employers will respond with a form letter which indicates that you should 1) participate through your law school's Fall Interview Program or 2) sign up for interviews at your school. This last phrase does not mean that they automatically granted you an interview. It means that you should follow the school's normal recruiting procedures. Additions to a recruiter's schedule can only be made upon the direct request of the recruiter by phone or letter to the Career Services Office.
10) What if I want to apply to an employer that is not an OCI employer (not coming on-campus)?
Direct Contact and Resume Collect Employers: There are many employers both in Chicago and in other parts of the country who decide not to send recruiters to interview at the law school but who have indicated to us that they are interested in receiving applications from Chicago-Kent students. Resume Collect employers prefer to have our office collect resumes in our Symplicity system and forward to them for their review. Resume Collect employers may be found on Symplicity under the "OCI" tab; Instead of listing an Interview Date, they will have an "RC" which stands for Resume Collect. In order to view information about the position and how to apply, simply click on the review tab next to the employer's name.
Some employers also request that students send materials directly to them. Please note: For Direct Contact employers, it is up to you to meet the employers' deadlines. Do not wait until on-campus interviews are completed to send letters to Direct Contact Employers. For Resume Collect employers, you must have all of the required information uploaded onto the Symplicity system by noon on August 1.
If you are interested in an employer that is not an OCI, Resume Collect or Direct Contact employer, we strongly encourage you to contact that employer and find out the name of the hiring partner or person in charge of recruiting and send a cover letter and resume to that person in August or in early September. If the recruiter is interested in interviewing you, he/she will contact you directly during the fall.
11) If I decide not to interview in the Fall Recruiting program, does that mean I'll be forever unemployed?
No. About 80% of the nation's law graduates do not get hired through Fall Recruiting programs but find employment in a number of other ways. There are many things you can do to find employment as a student or graduating third-year.
- Make an appointment to talk to one of our career counselors to discuss your career plans, job search strategy, etc. Prepare your resume and tailor a personalized cover letter to employers of your preference.
- Read the career development handouts on our Web site.
- Network! Talk to classmates, law school graduates, and any attorneys you know, about possible clerking or attorney job openings.
- Review the job postings in Symplicity for attorney, part-time clerk, full-time clerk, summer law clerk and student intern positions.
- Contact potential employers. For graduating students who don't participate in the fall interview program, potential employers should be contacted throughout the third year of law school, with increased effort during the last semester. For law clerk positions, there are always postings in the Symplicity system, and these employers are usually seeking students to start work immediately. For summer employment, a few firms can be contacted as early as February or March, although most firms won't know their summer needs until April or May.
- Join professional organizations. The Chicago Bar Association is nearby and student membership is inexpensive. Membership in this or other professional organizations is an excellent means for establishing contacts. The Career Services Office webpage has a listing of numerous bar associations in the Chicago area.
PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE WITH QUESTIONS:
Tel: (312) 906-5200