Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a Fall Recruiting 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 Recruiting 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 your Career Advisor. Appointments fill up early, so we advise you to make an appointment in early June, if possible.  

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. 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 the employer.

3) What kinds of legal recruiters participate in Fall Recruiting 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 law clerks. The vast majority of law firms--those with 1-50 attorneys (and some that are larger)--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 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. 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.

CORPORATE LAW DEPARTMENTS: Corporate law departments seldom hire attorneys directly out of law school and most do not participate in on-campus interview programs. See the list of participating employers in the Symplicity "OCI" tab to determine whether any corporate law departments will be interviewing during this year's Fall Recruiting Program.

TAX/ACCOUNTING FIRMS: In recent years, some tax/accounting firms have begun to recruit at law schools, including Chicago-Kent. Students that have a specific interest in tax-related work may want to research these employers and consider applying for summer or post-graduate positions.

4) I am a first or second year evening student. Should I be concerned now about the Fall Recruiting Program?

Evening students should participate during the fall of their third year. Evening students complete the core law school classes during 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 some mid-size and many 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, the firm 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 their new associate positions from their summer associate classes.

6) I am an evening division student with a full-time job who will graduate in 2024. Why should I consider interviewing in the 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.

Historically, interview opportunities with large law firms for graduating students have been limited because summer associates have filled the hiring needs of the employers. Some of these firms, 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 8 to 10 weeks).

7) What kinds of credentials are fall recruiters seeking?

Because fall recruiters usually interview at many 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 have required hiring criteria ranging from the top 10% to the top 30% of the class (although the full range varies slightly from year to year). Law Review and Moot Court Honor Society are two credentials that many large law firms prefer. Patent firms, of course, want a technical background such as electrical or mechanical engineering. Accounting firms often 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 in Symplicity, 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 Symplicity system, click on the "OCI" tab to view participating employers once this information becomes available after the spring semester. 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 mid-size law firms tend to fill most of their entry-level associate hiring 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 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 in Symplicity under the "OCI" tab; instead of listing an interview date, they will be listed as a Resume Collection. 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 application materials to Direct Contact employers. For Resume Collect employers, you must have all of the required information uploaded into the Symplicity system by noon on Sunday July 10, 2022.

If you are interested in an employer that is not an OCI or Resume Collect 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 July. If the recruiter is interested in interviewing you, he/she will contact you directly.

10) If I decide not to interview through the Fall Recruiting Program, does that mean I will 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 your Career Advisor 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 website and in the Symplicity Document Library
  • Network! Talk to classmates, law school graduates and any attorneys you know about possible law clerk or attorney job openings.
  • Review the job postings in Symplicity for attorney, part-time law clerk, full-time law clerk, summer law clerk and student intern positions.
  • Contact potential employers. For graduating students who do not participate in the Fall Recruiting 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 will not 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. You can find a detailed list of bar associations in the Chicago area here.

Tel: (312) 906-5200