OH HELLO THERE
The 2L recruitment process is, for lack of a better word… bananas. Some of you will find it incredibly overwhelming and scary – I know I did. And some of you will be as cool as a cucumber, owning those interviews like it ain’t no thang. And most of you will probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Regardless of what category you fit into, you likely have a million questions rolling around in that very bright brain of yours.
Never fear, the students at CBB are here to help! I have compiled this blog post with words of wisdom (to aid you on your own journey), embarrassing and cringe worthy OCI and infirm interview stories (to provide comic relief) and a few plugs for Cassels Brock (at least I come by it honesty) from the summer students of 2013.
Before I begin, I want to emphasize that, in my opinion, everyone has their own approach and style to this process. One approach isn’t necessarily better than the other. Go to your law school’s Career Services sessions. Seek out upper year students who will share their journey with you. Contact students at firms you are interested in. Read this blog post. Listen and read and embrace the advice and insight that makes the most sense and suits you. You are bright and capable and have made it this far. You are a beautiful and unique snowflake. Remember this. Okay, pep talk over – moving on!
WORDS AND WISDOM
“Tailor your applications to the firms. Admissions committees will identify generic applications for what they are. Generic applications are indications that you do not care about the particular firm or are unable to distinguish it from others. While many firms are similar, they are also all unique. And by unique, I mean that they are separate entities. This statement may seem trite, but compare the following two statements: “I like your firm because I want to practice corporate law.” Or, “I like your firm because I [spoke to person X in your firm who said…] [read X about your firm in Y publication]…” You get the picture. At the very least, it shows that you have the wherewithal to collect some unique data about the firm.”
– Peter Reinitzer
“The best tip I have for applications is to take the time to research the firms you are applying to in order to understand the various practice areas, and determine if that firm will allow you to gain the experience you need to progress in your career.”
– Evan Eliason
“Take the process one step at a time. If you don’t put together a good application package, you won’t get an OCI. If you don’t get an OCI, you won’t get an in-firm. Put your best foot forward each step of the way.”
– Amir Har-Gill
THE ON CAMPUS INTERVIEW (OCI)
“I would say that during all OCIs that you treat those twenty minutes like a conversation, rather than an interview. That is the mindset you need to get into. That means aside from answering questions -which are basically just springboards for you to jump into new conversational terrain after your response – you should be initiating topics of conversation, asking questions of your own, making light/comedy of a situation, and generally projecting all the qualities you think would be appealing (aka marketable) in a social setting. This is compared to speed-dating for a reason; because that is exactly what it is. You have twenty minutes to convince the interviewing lawyer that you would be worth hanging out with at some point again. Don’t go into this process with the false expectation you are to be rigid, formalistic and staring into a teleprompter when answering questions – that makes everybody uncomfortable, and will unlikely score you the job. This does not mean you should abandon professionalism though – it’s one thing to make witty banter, but telling inappropriate jokes or swearing to reciprocate with the loose-lipped lawyer across the desk is a recipe for disaster.
The natural extension of all this is that you need to walk into these interviews appearing to be having a great time. You are excited to be amongst all your nervously sweating colleagues, awkwardly jockeying for position in a most obviously artificial environment, telling the same stories over and over again . You have to just roll with it and recognize you are in an incredibly lucky position to be there, and the process is what it is. Chances are you wouldn’t go out to a bar to meet new people if you weren’t really feeling like having some fun. Genuinely enjoying yourself (in spite of the festering terror within) is obviously the best formula for success. Otherwise, as the old adage goes – fake it until you make it.”
– Nick Carmichael
“The firms that don’t call you back after OCIs don’t deserve you.”
– Peter Reinitzer
THE IN FIRM INTERVIEW
“Do not ignore/glance over anyone you meet from the firm. Be polite and friendly with EVERYONE at the firm, as impressions are shared and solicited from many different people in many different roles. Don’t assume the senior partner is the only one influencing the hiring/interview decisions.”
– Michael Brown
“Know your resume backwards and forwards and have an anecdote prepared about every bullet because that is where the majority of the questions come from. Ensure that you are able to relate every experience to how it prepared you for, or would help you in a career in law.”
– David Kelman
“Girls, we understand that you’d love to break out those gorgeous new pumps, but think twice before wearing sky-high heels for the interview process. Unless you are akin to the talented lady gaga in her foot torture devices, you don’t want to be remembered as the girl who hobbled up and down the internal staircase.”
– Belinda Chiu
“If you have many in-firms, do NOT try to visit every single one of those firms again on Wednesday. It’s impossible. Just don’t do it. It limits the amount of time that you can spend at each firm, and will likely leave firms with a bad impression. On the Wednesday, I valiantly tried to take on this impossible task, causing me to spend only 15 minutes at a student networking event at one of the firms. Just as I stealthily snuck out of the event, thinking that no one had noticed, I ran right into the recruitment director. I had mentioned the day before that I may have to leave early, but it still led to an embarrassing and awkward exit.”
– Michael Alvaro
“For in-firms, rely on the articling students. They are very valuable their advice really helps. At the end of the day, they probably give their opinions to the student committee so remember that the entire time you are with someone from the firm it is part of the interview process.”
– Jonathan Sherman
“I didn’t have enough time to eat a snack between two of my interviews in the morning. I was meeting with the managing partner and my stomach started to rumble. I had to cover my stomach to muffle the noises… Bring cliff bars kids.”
– Meredith Bacal
“I was in an interview. I felt as though it was going well. I was laughing. Not awkward-nervous-you-are-interviewing-me-so-I-have-to-laugh-at-your-jokes-laughter. Real laughter. Sincere giggles. Mid laugh, somehow, and I am not entirely sure how, I managed to bash my head on a cabinet behind me. I was mildly concussed mid-interview and still got hired. There is hope for everyone.”
– Alex Williamson
“I spilled a near-full glass of red wine on the white tablecloths at a firm dinner. When I realized I didn’t really care I knew I wasn’t wild about the firm. Do not advise this as a litmus test.”
– Kate Byers
“I was speaking to a lawyer at another firm and kept referring to his firm as “Cassels”… until he corrected me. I guess it was meant to be!”
– Jake Goldberg
WHY CASSELS BROCK? (let those warm and fuzzy feelings shine through!)
“I have too many fitted peplum jackets and statement necklaces to work in a place that won’t let me wear them and the concentration of fashionable folks at Cassels is impressive to say the least.”
– Xi Chen
“Free lunches and casual Fridays.”
– Andrew Chan
“I personally just felt so comfortable during all stages of the process with Cassels. Every person I spoke to I felt I could have a real conversation with. It wasn’t superficial and didn’t feel like it was an interview! Especially after having experience in the firm this summer, it is really important to like the people you are working with, so that was huge for me!”
– Michelle Sutzkiewicz
“I spent a lot of time before I began applying to jobs attending various seminars and listening to people talk about things like “fit” and “the people making a big difference” and being “comfortable” somewhere, and I remember nodding complacently while fidgeting awkwardly in my suit, thinking something along the lines of “LIARS! THE LOT OF YOU! I JUST TRIPPED IN THE INTERNAL STAIRCASE AND I’M SO AWKWARD AND MY LAW CAREER IS OVER!”
But, beneath the platitudes, there was something genuinely important being hinted at in remarks like this. Interviews are not like going to dinner with your best friends and they aren’t supposed to be, but they’re also not supposed to be terrifying— these are nice, interesting people who really want to get to know you and get along with you. A reality of our chosen profession is that we spend a lot of time at work doing challenging, unfamiliar tasks under significant pressure. You’re going to want to like the people you’re doing this with. Given that, it’s important to try to relax during the process so you can stop essentially throwing spaghetti at the wall trying to “impress people” and start paying attention to where you’re meeting people who you genuinely admire, share values and aspirations with, who do things that (would) actually interest you (if you weren’t terrified and unable to walk in your shoes) and who you, you know, enjoy being around.
That’s why I’m at Cassels.”
– Jacqui Richards
There are many factors in this process that are outside your control. Accept that. Not everyone is going to think you are bee’s knees, and some of the firms may not be into your pocket square.
Focus on the factors that you can control. Do your research. Edit, edit, edit those resumes and cover letters! Dress the part. Talk to students at the firm. Smile. Be the best version of yourself. Express interest. And at the end of the day, that is all you can really do.
Please do not hesitate to contact any one of us with any questions about Cassels Brock, or the recruitment process generally. I mean it. This is not just something we say. Contact us. We can’t wait to hear from you.