BY ANDREA SAENZ
I know what you’re thinking. Andrea, you need to get a grip. It’s April. OCI isn’t until September. Your latest jeremiad against the big firms has come way too early.Trust me, it hasn’t. There’s only one more issue of the Record after this one, and after that we take finals and then scatter to the winds for the summer. And sooner than you know it, the moving sidewalk is going to rumble up to your doorway. OCS is going to ask you for your resume before school starts. Then they’re going to ask you to bid on firms right as the semester’s getting underway. There’ll be hundreds of them; they’ve all paid at least $700 to get at you, and their hospitality suite goodies will be bountiful. Interviews will happen from late September to October; the last week of October the school will cancel classes because so many people have call back interviews to fly to. You know the rest: offers, acceptances, summer associate gigs, permanent offers, and…welcome to the next five to ten years of your life! If you want, by next October, they can be all sewn up!Bizarre, don’t you think? So now is a good time to start thinking if that’s the kind of job you’d actually want.My point is simple, so let’s get right to it: You don’t have to participate in fall on-campus interviewing if you don’t want to. No one will make you. Nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t. That’s it.The following is a good reason to do OCI: I want to work at a large law firm that serves primarily corporate clients. I think I will enjoy and learn from this experience.The following are not good reasons:Everyone else is doing it. It seems like it’s “the thing to do.” (I have literally had people say this to me about why they’re going to do the law review competition, even though they think they wouldn’t actually like law review. Seriously. This blows my mind.)It’s so easy! They just come right to me!I probably wouldn’t get a summer job doing what I actually want to do, so I’ll do this instead.I’ll do anything people tell me to do for however many hours they want for that kind of money and those kind of perks.I swear, just until I pay off my loans… (Are you people mad? Are you trying to send Natasha and Leslie, the LIPP gurus in the financial aid office, into violent alcoholic rages?)Look, folks; there are some of you who know what big firms do, and you’re cool with that – the work interests you or whatever, and you think that (or the money) outweighs the hours and the potential drudgery. Structured finance rocks your world. That’s great. I know you’re out there, and you’re nice, normal people. But you know what? That’s NOT all of you. It’s not over 90% of you, but that’s the percent of the 2L class that participated in OCI last year. It’s not 70-80% of you, but that’s how many graduates of Harvard and our peer schools go to firms after graduation or a clerkship. There are a dozen reasons it turns out like that, and most of them piss me off, but that’s not my point. My point is that while numbers like that can seem intimidating, they’re not predictive of you. My point is that you have a choice, as long as you keep your eyes open and you don’t forget too much about the issues that made your brain or your heart get moving, that made you think law school would be a good idea in the first place. And at a school as flush with funding, staff, and programming as HLS, no one should say that they didn’t get enough support in doing what really made them happy.I’d like to help with that. And I’d like to get some support, too. I might sound self-righteous in the pages of the Record, but trust me, I have plenty of self-doubt about this stuff. I’m planning to give fall OCI with the big firms a pass, and get a summer job the same way I did this year. Some of my friends are too. Not as a political statement. Because that’s not the work I came to law school to do, and it wouldn’t make me happy. To tell you the truth, it feels slightly scary. So if this thought has occurred to you, email me. Say hey to me in a hallway. We’ll talk goals and dreams and 2L job search. We’ll hug. Whatever you like.The good people of SPIN are having a panel entitled “Why OCI? Panel for Questioning 1Ls” on Wednesday, April 24th at 7 in Pound 102; you can hear from students who made various decisions about OCI in years past, and I am told there will be snacks. Goals, dreams, and snacks: that’s what I’m all about. Good luck on finals; get lots of sun and lots of sleep, and have a wonderful summer, wherever you may be.
Andrea Saenz, 1L, enjoys a good hug and can be reached at asaenz@law.