Rest Easy Young Grasshopper, Or Skipping 2L OCI



Here is a bit of advice to all you 2Ls who are either pleased as punch that you didn’t have to go through On Campus Interviewing and for those of you who are generally happy about it, but a little bit nervous that you might have shot yourself in the foot next fall when you return to campus without an offer in hand.

Don’t worry. Not even a little bit.

Enjoy your summers. Call up Judy Murciano, Queen of Fellowships, and spend your summer working in the public sector while writing up your Skadden application.

And, if at the end of the summer you decide that maybe you really do want to work at a law firm and risk the golden handcuffs, then you can do 3L OCI. It’s not pretty, but you go to Harvard. Law firms still come to you.

The story I’m about to tell you is not mine, but let’s just say I have it on good authority. It’s the story of a young man who wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life, and so, like many of us here at Harvard, he went to law school.

Unlike many who go straight for the lucrative corporate work, flooding the post boxes on December 1 with reams of resumes, he decided to work for the government his first summer. He wrote some interesting memos, dressed better than he usually did, and commuted to work everyday on the T like a regular working stiff. Yet, at the end of the summer, he decided that he wanted to try something altogether different.

While taking a class on immigration law he 2L fall, he met a couple of students who had loved their jobs the previous summer. He liked the class, the public interest firm they had interned at sounded fun, and he didn’t have anything to lose since he was newly single and not tied to anyplace in particular. Sure, he could work in Newark for a few months. He called up the organization and got a summer internship secured before the end of the semester.

That was also before he found a new girlfriend, one who happened to have a summer job on the opposite coast. But summer was months and months away yet, and who knew what might happen between winter and the end of spring semester?

His summer job was fulfilling. He didn’t have to dress up too much, and more importantly he was engaged in the area of law he was working in, even going so far as to start drafting a potential law review article. The long-distance relationship, however, was not as fun. Although he could have gotten a fellowship to continue his work in immigration law at the center, his girlfriend was not thrilled at the idea of moving to Newark.

That is how he ended up doing 3L OCI. He thought about trying to create a fellowship project out in Los Angeles, but eventually chose to go the law firm route instead.

(Students – I strongly advise you to talk to Judy Murciano before ruling fellowships out. She will hook you up. She helped a friend of mine snag a fellowship in Iceland. Her abilities, and those of Alexa Shabecoff and all the OPIA staff, are phenomenal.)

With some trepidation, he began the OCI process. Mark Weber at the Office of Career Services treated him with some “tough love” and pushed him to come up with explanations for the sudden change in career direction, and coast, above and beyond, “Because phone sex is not as satisfying as the real thing.” Note: he wasn’t really going to say that, guys. C’mon.

However, Mark Weber did work with him to create a marketable persona to sell to firms. And boy did it work out for him. By the beginning of Week 3 of OCI, his Fly Out Week is already full.

OCI as a 3L is not a fun-filled a romp through hospitality suites full of fizzy drinks, pizza, chocolate covered pretzels and flash drives. The pressure can be high as you find yourself explaining to law firms why you haven’t done any private law work, didn’t “click” with your previous law firm, or have otherwise departed from the law school norm.

But nowhere else are you going to have the huge support network on all sides helping you change course and still end up with a job at the end of the school year.

Did you decide that a summer at Cravath and a summer at Wachtel have left you craving direct legal services with indigent clients? OPIA can do that.

Have you learned that an all-litigation firm is not the place for you and you want to join a transactional group? OCS knows how to spin it.

My point here is that nothing is set in stone, and while many 2Ls may already be resting on their laurels, planning for that day next fall when they accept their summer firm’s offer and begin coasting toward graduation, those of you who chose the less traveled path have nothing to fear.

There are lots of people at Harvard to hold your hand.

Erin Archerd is a 3L and apologizes for using her friends as examples. However, she does not regret betting whether or not her friends would get clerkships and is now the happy winner of a bottle of red wine and an IHOP dinner, both in celebration of soon-to-be clerks. Congratulations, ladies!

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