Summary List Placement
Now that most law schools have delayed their on-campus recruiting programs — and moving them virtually — due to the pandemic, law firms are having to follow suit, adjusting their hiring timelines accordingly.
On campus interviews (OCIs), typically held before law students’ second years, have been pushed back to after the fall semester, as previously reported by Business Insider, with January 2021 shaping up to be the peak time for virtual interviews.
With the extra half-year’s time, law firms are getting creative with how they reach out to prospective candidates, from TikTok challenges to Zoom meet-and-greets with attorneys, to help them best prepare for the high-stakes job interviews.
Five prominent law firms spoke with Business Insider about how they’ve shifted their hiring process to adjust to the pandemic, the kinds of events they’ll be participating in leading up to OCIs, and what resources are available to students.
“We try to take the mystery out of the interview process for students,” Ellen Fleishhacker, co-chair of Arnold & Porter’s hiring committee, explained. “They’re only doing this once, while we do it every year.”
White & Case
White & Case, which ranks ninth among the Am Law 100, will be participating in more than 30 law schools’ OCIs this year. Eric Lancaster, the associate hiring partner at the firm’s Silicon Valley office, said that he expects to hire about the same number of summer associates — 102 1Ls and 2Ls — for next year’s program as they did this year.
On top of traditional OCIs, White & Case is launching a virtual interview program using the recruitment automation and video-interviewing platform, LaunchPad. This allows the firm to receive online applications from a broader pool of students who either didn’t receive an interview slot through the school’s lottery system, or goes to a school whose OCI the firm doesn’t normally participate in.
The new virtual platform adds another, more personal dimension to the pre-interview part of the application process, as candidates can record a screening interview where they answer five basic questions, like “why White & Case?” and “what makes you a good candidate?”
“You always were able to send in a hard copy resume, but this platform allows for a ‘3D resume,’ where students can really express why they think White & Case is a good fit for them in a way that’s a little more challenging to do in a cover letter or resume alone,” explained Lancaster.
The firm is getting creative with providing resources to students. It’s translating its typical recruiting events, like happy hours, campus lunchtime talks, and meet-and-greets, into virtual formats.
Lancaster added that other good ways to get to know the firm is through Inside White & Case, a website dedicated to providing prospective candidates with information on the firm, and a free virtual internship program where students can try their hand at a typical assignment of a White & Case lawyer.
Susanne Schaeffer, attorney recruitment manager at Mayer Brown, said that the firm is likely participating in more campus OCIs this year now that most of them are going virtual. Typically the firm attends around 38 schools. This year, Schaeffer told Business Insider that it has 42 OCIs on its roster, and are collecting resumes from an additional 12 schools.
Like White & Case, Mayer Brown has a new online application system as of this summer, which allows it to interview students at schools it typically doesn’t go to. Less than 10% of summer associates, though, are hired outside of the OCI process, the firm noted.
Schaeffer said that they’ve already started to receive applications for next year’s summer associate program through this online application system. Most law schools have requested that, if the firm does make an offer to a student who interviews before the OCI program, the deadline to accept the offer should be set two weeks after campus interviews. This way, if the student chooses to interview for other firms through OCI, they have the freedom to do so.
A primary way that Mayer Brown is reaching out to students is by organizing meet-and-greet breakout rooms over Zoom, where two to three students can go in and out of virtual rooms and meet different attorneys. This not only allows students to more intimately connect with attorneys but, on the flip side, also benefits the firm by giving it a preview of potential star candidates to keep an eye out for.
In addition to working closely with law schools on these meet-and-greets, Mayer Brown is also actively connecting with affinity groups to boost diversity, which Schaeffer says is a “huge focus” for the firm.
Winston & Strawn
Winston & Strawn plans on hiring a summer associate class of a similar size historically — around 65 2Ls and eight to nine 1Ls, said Bill O’Neil, hiring partner at the firm. Everything will be done remotely, and the firm is considering various tech options, from Flo Recruit to WebEx and Zoom.
The firm typically attends 30 to 35 law schools’ OCIs, and will be sticking to that number this year as well. O’Neil said that Winston & Strawn previously conducted a regression analysis to best determine which schools to focus on given their resources, and found that top performers at the firm weren’t necessarily from the traditionally top-ranked schools.
“The use of data has caused us to be really thoughtful,” he said. “While we recruit the majority of our students from the top 15 law schools in the country, we do hire a significant number of law students from 15 or so other law schools which rank between numbers 16 and 126 in the US News rankings.”
The firm will also be participating in around seven job fairs that center around diversity or specific practice areas, opening up their applicant pool to students from more schools.
Winston & Strawn typically has an evening interview program for candidates who proceed to the callback round from important schools in each area (University of Chicago, Michigan Law School, and Northwestern are feeder schools for the Chicago office, for example). About a dozen candidates from each school are given a tour, information session, and rotate through four interviews with associates and partners. The firm then makes offers that same evening. O’Neil said they plan on doing the same, just virtually.
“The process has changed, but the substance, volume, and integration have not,” O’Neil told Business Insider.
The same can be said of its outreach to students. Winston & Strawn will be hosting its “home for the holidays” reception and cocktail events online, and is doubling down on other virtual social events, like a behind-the-scenes Zoom with the San Diego Zoo and a TikTok video challenge featuring some of the diverse hires in the 2020 summer associate class.
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
Arnold & Porter is going to roughly the same number of schools — around 30 — and plans on having a similar summer class size of 60, according to the firm’s hiring directors. A differentiator of this year’s OCIs is that since there’s less of a travel barrier, students can meet attorneys from offices they’re interested in working at, even if it’s in a faraway state, said Amanda Leslie, director of attorney recruiting.
Ellen Fleishhacker, co-chair of the firm’s hiring committee, said that the firm has prepared an interview prep sheet for students. The prep sheet includes tips on networking with attorneys, how to prepare for a virtual interview, and creating a good impression on interviewers.
In addition, attorneys at Arnold & Porter are attending virtual programs hosted by law schools, from roundtables to affinity groups’ events. Leslie strongly urges students to take advantage of mock interview programs that the firm participates in, which she said are held at most schools, including Georgetown, Harvard, NYU, Columbia, and Berkeley. These mock interviews give students an opportunity to practice with the new virtual medium with an attorney from the firm, Leslie said.
The firm is drawing on inspiration from their summer associate program to creatively engage with students. For example, it hosted a speaker series featuring Senator Cory Booker and actor George Takei, followed by breakout rooms on Zoom for smaller-sized discussions with attorneys. “They’re not only fun and informative, but also uplifting, which we need during this stressful time,” explained Fleishhacker.
Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders
It’s an exciting time to be joining Troutman Pepper, which underwent a merger this summer. A spokeswoman for the firm told Business Insider that it plans to participate in roughly 50 law schools’ OCI programs and job fairs. It’s still determining how many summer associates it aims to hire in 2021 — the firm had 93 summers scheduled to join its program this year, though it ultimately had to cancel the program due to COVID-19.
Troutman Pepper will be offering students both on-demand and live virtual events to engage with the firm, as well as providing digital materials that contain information about its practice areas and values, said the spokeswoman.
In addition, students will be able to participate in small-group coffee chats with the firm’s recruiting team and attorneys. For more information on the merger and direction of the firm, Troutman Pepper’s “Why Work Here” page on Vault features an interview between a legacy Pepper partner and legacy Troutman associate.