Students Speak: I Didn’t Do OCI

BY ANDREA SAENZ

The HLS campus is now knee-deep in on-campus interviewing. With dark suits and leather portfolios replacing sweatshirts and messenger bags, and institutional measures like the canceling of classes for “fly-out week,” it might seem like 2L participation in OCI is both universal and inevitable. This is mostly true: each year, the Office of Career Services schedules thousands of interviews at law firms for more than 90% of the second-year class.

Nevertheless, every year a group of students choose not to participate, deciding instead to search on their own for public interest, government, and non-traditional jobs. The decision has consequences beyond the summer: students who do not join law firm summer associate programs are forgoing a chance at having a permanent job offer from a firm in hand by the start of 3L year. The Record asked several 2Ls and 3Ls about their reasons for opting out of OCI.

Laura Eichorn, 2LPlans for next summer: Public interest law firm that does civil rights or employment discrimination work. Why no OCI: I have known since before I came to law school that I am interested in these areas of public interest law and I chose not to do OCI because the kind of small public interest firms and organizations that I want to intern with just don’t come to campus. Overall, I have received a very positive response from friends and family about sticking with what I have always said I want to do.

Art Samuels, 2LPlans for this summer: I don’t know, but I’m hoping something non-traditional that combines legal “thinking” with my passion for working with high school kids. Why no OCI: My decision not to do OCI has nothing to do with an intense desire to do public interest work or any sort of ill will towards the corporate world. To me, working for a firm is similar to being an architect-I’m sure it’s nice and interesting for some people, it’s just not for me. I think people who don’t know me at first assume the decision not to do OCI is a political one, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I just think the greatest blessing in life is to be able to do the thing you love, and I love working with high school kids, so I see no reason to spend the summer doing anything else.

Beth Tossell, 2LPlans for next summer: Legal services work on behalf of either prisoners or childrenWhy no OCI: I’m not doing OCI because I have no intention of ever working at a firm. In my experience, social change does not come from within institutions that are focused on profit. I’d like to be in a position where I’m surrounded by people with similar values and commitments whose goal is explicitly to create a more just society.

Lisa Cloutier, 2LPlans for next summer: Women’s rights work Why no OCI: The reason I’m not going to a firm is simply because I have no interest in doing so, now or after graduation. This summer I plan to continue working on what I’m interested, in at a job that will provide me with training and experience for use after graduation. I’m so grateful that we have SPIF funding and LIPP and so many opportunities at HLS, so I can do the type of work that motivated me to come to law school in the first place.

Mindy Klenoff, 3LLast summer’s job: Suffolk County DA’s office, Boston. Why no OCI: I didn’t do OCI because I have no interest in working for a firm-I’m planning to be a child abuse prosecutor, and wanted to take a summer job that was as close as possible to what I’d be doing after graduation. Honestly, the decision was quick, easy, and involved less dry cleaning!

John Rappaport, 3LLast summer’s job: ACLU national legal department, New York Why no OCI: I actually came very close to doing OCI-I even made a preliminary list of firms, but decided last minute not to go through with it. I realized that working for a law firm had absolutely no connection to the reasons that motivated me to come to law school in the first place. I’m sure I would have enjoyed a firm but I couldn’t say WHY I wanted to work there; I could speak at length, however, about why I wanted to do public interest. For me, that made all the difference.

Becky Goldberg, 3LLast summer’s job: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington, D.C. Why no OCI: Whenever I hear attorneys talk about their careers, it always sounds so much more interesting to me to have worked in the White House, in the Justice Department, with the ACLU, and so on. There are so many fascinating jobs out there, and I’m convinced that it’s not necessary to work at a firm as a stepping stone towards getting those jobs. This past summer, I was able to work exclusively on voting rights issues; if I had been at a firm, I would have had to work on whatever came my way.

Dana Mulhauser, 3LLast summer’s job: Southern Center for Human Rights, in Atlanta, and working for a civil rights lawyer in Jackson, Miss.Why no OCI: I didn’t even seriously consider doing OCI. I know I’m going to end up on LIPP after graduation, so the firm money actually wouldn’t make too much of a difference. I thought the best way I could spend my summer was figuring out whether what I think I want to do after graduation is actually what I want to do after graduation.

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