Major firm breaks OCI rules

BY CLINTON DICK

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According to the Office of Career Services and several Harvard Law students, the law firm Arnold & Porter has been soliciting students for its open interview slots during OCI through a pre-screening process that includes viewing the students’ transcripts prior to the first interview.

If Arnold & Porter’s actions are true, this would be a violation of OCS’s ‘no pre-screening policy’ that says, “employers are not permitted to pre-screen candidates prior to the on-campus interview.”

According to OCS Director Mark Weber, there was an extraordinary interest in Arnold & Porter this year so that “some students who had ranked them third on their list did not get them.” Worse for students, the firm only sent two recruiters to handle the demand, which means only 44 slots were available for about 150 students who had expressed considerable interest.

Two-L Hannah Bate was one of those students who had ranked Arnold & Porter among her top five choices, but did not get an interview slot after bidding. Then, before interviews began, Bate received a phone call from someone at Arnold & Porter saying they were doing overflow screening and asked that she fax them her transcript. “They called me back later that day to schedule an interview,” Bate said.

Bate interviewed with the firm during the first week of interviews. Bate was told by the Arnold & Porter interviewer when she sat down that her transcript had already been received by the firm. “Other than that it was a normal interview,” Bate commented.

“I really didn’t even think about it at the time until I mentioned it to another student who agreed it was a little weird,” Bate said. She did not report the incident to OCS.

The concern is that Arnold & Porter may be “using this as an end run around our policy,” Weber said.

While technically Arnold & Porter’s conduct is a violation of the OCS’s rule, Weber explained that strict enforcement of such rules may hurt students more than it helps. “Whenever you have a rule in place you want to make sure the core purpose of that rule is being served,” Weber explained. “If a firm does have a few extra slots are we helping or hurting students by not allowing [firms] to have students fax transcripts?”

Weber said he would call Arnold & Porter to remind them of OCS’s no-pre-screening policy “just so there is no misunderstanding.” He also said he wanted to discuss this issue with the Placement Committee.

Up until three years ago this would not have been an issue because a student’s transcript was sent along with his or her resume prior to interviews. Weber questioned this procedure when he took his position and changed it his first year. “The employers hated the change,” he said.

Claire Reade, who is the Partner and Chair of Arnold & Porter’s Hiring Committee, had this comment on behalf of the firm: “We experienced extraordinary interest in our firm at Harvard this year, receiving well over a hundred overflow resumes. We simply could not see all of the students who had expressed in interest in the firm, but we worked hard to see a large number of them. We did not then understand and still do not understand Career Services policies to obligate a firm to interview all overflow candidates or none at all. We take the Law School’s policies very seriously and are committed to complying with them.”

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