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Should Your Firm Participate in OCI? Pros and Cons

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By Betty Wang, JD on August 27, 2013 11:55 AM

It's OCI season at law schools all across the country. This means that hoards of anxiety-ridden, nail-biting, expensive-suit-clad 2Ls are running around between classes to interview for a coveted summer associate position at a BigLaw firm this summer.

But, OCI, (on-campus interviews), are not exclusively just for BigLaw firms. Many government agencies, mid-sized or smaller firms, and non-profits are thrown into the mix, or have their own version of an on-campus interview session. With that said, should your firm participate in OCI, as well? If you are not a BigLaw firm, is it worth it? Here's a list of some pros and cons.

PRO: Even as a small firm, you can have access to the pick of the crop, while the schools do most of the work for you in generating interest. In turn, you save the time and energy required to go out there and recruit on your own. This way, your limited resources can be put to other uses.

CON: Because BigLaw firms are often the most sought after positions when it comes to OCI, you may not be conducting as many interviews as they are, due to lower demand, perception of lower prestige, or possibly just a lack of awareness on the part of the law students.

PRO: OCI is only one of the many routes you can pursue. Unlike BigLaw firms, who tend to exclusively rely on OCI for their hiring needs when it comes to law students, small firms can turn to other places. This means that you have more options, and more possibility to attract a wider audience.

CON: OCIs are generally only at the beginning of the school year and hire traditionally for the upcoming summer. Because of the ever-changing, unpredictable nature of a small firm's practice, you may not be able to predict the workload you'll be able to give to the associate or intern. Or, it might just be too early to tell whether or not you'll even need an intern at that time.

PRO: A more saturated job market means that law students are more eager than ever to just find work, period. Aside from being able to easily hire someone, you may find that the OCI process brings forth a batch of students and future-attorneys that your firm otherwise wouldn't have attracted from just a normal job posting.

CON: Hiring a summer associate or intern may not appear to be the easy, instant-free-help that you thought it would be. As a small law firm, you have more limited resources and tighter finances than BigLaw firms do. Summer associates are traditionally paid positions, unlike interns, and it may not be in the firm's budget to have and supervise one.

Think through the process, it might be for you! And once you've found the right fit and have your summer associate, remember to be a good mentor.

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