OCI Applications: Tips and Tricks

I’ve avoided it for some time: writing a post that offers advice on the OCI application process for incoming second-year students. That topic seems to be the dominant theme of our blog (and, if you look at our stats, the dominant draw for readership), so in the interest of relevance I thought I would offer you some tips and tricks on the OCI application process.

Be sure to emphasize experiences that are relevant. Take a look at your resume. Sure it’s impressive that you completed a weekend course in self-portrait crochet back in 1998; but is it impressive to people who matter? Your resume and cover letter are one of the only chances you get to secure an OCI. Cram them with relevance, and discard anything that has nothing to do with your suitability for work at a law firm.

Have informed expectations about the summer experience. A certain friend of mine, let’s call him Mr. Orange, thought it was a good idea to emphasize in his cover letter that he really looked forward to client contact as a summer student. He was surprised when not a single firm discussed his interest during interviews.

The truth is, summer students will not have a great deal of client contact (although it does happen), so expressing a heady interest in that aspect of work was not the best use of Mr. Orange’s cover letter and resume. Make sure you fully understand the job of the summer student before trying to talk about how much you’d like to have one; that way you’ll be able to maximize the relevance and impact of your cover letter and resume.   

Don’t discriminate. Apply to a large number of firms and worry about paring them down later. There’s no sense in limiting yourself this early in the game. Unless, of course, you know you only want to work at CBB.

Double-check your references. If you’re going to mention someone on your cover letter, ensure well in advance that they are comfortable with it. Instead of adding punch to your application, an inappropriate or unacknowledged name-drop on your cover letter can really harm your chances. A surprising amount of applicants make this error.

Proofread. Their’s nothing wrong with pour grammer and spelling, butt it distracts from the massage.  

Hopefully these tips help you along the way. Don’t forget that there are loads of other resources available, and that almost all of the third year students at your law school have gone through the same experience. Good luck!

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