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Posted September 14, 2007

Round One Wraps Up for On-Grounds Interviews

On-Grounds Interviews
Students gathered in Slaughter Hall, where the bulk of interviews take place.

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Emily Williams

In suit tones that varied from dark gray to black and speaking in hushed voices, 2L and 3L Law School students stood in groups of two or three or sat alone stiffly on chairs and benches outside the interview rooms along the hallways of Slaughter Hall. Together they projected a unified image: intensely serious and eminently hirable.

It was the Law School ritual of the first phase of On-Grounds Interviews (OGIs) in which 540 2L and 3L students spent the week of August 22-28 in over 7,000 interviews with regional, national, and international law firms, government agencies and a few NGOs with one goal in mind: the start of their new careers in law. According to Polly Lawson, assistant dean for career services, over 30,000 resumes were sent out prior to the OGIs. The second round will be held September 20-26 and nearly 13,000 additional resumes have already been sent.

The OGIs are a complicated process where students and law firms try to find the best matches by sifting through the resumes and whirling in and out of interviews. The goal is to find that crucial summer associate’s job at a firm, organization or government department that could become the first career move after graduation.

Lara Loyd ’09 is specifically seeking a New York firm. Loyd, who attended high school in Charlottesville, and earned her bachelor’s degree at UVA, moved to New York City after graduation and worked in a law firm as a paralegal for six years. “I was very selective with my OGIs,” she said. “I had only 12 and I was looking for mostly New York firms and a couple of Los Angeles firms.” Loyd said her previous work experience and knowing where she wants to go helped her focus on her best work prospects.

Felix Yeung ‘09, head of the SBA’s career services committee, has also had extensive work experience, having spent seven years in Silicon Valley with a high-tech public relations firm. He said it gave him more confidence in the interview process. He noted, however, that OGI anxiety was not one-sided. “Students are anxious to be accepted,” he said, “and the firms are anxious to find the most talented students.”

With phase two of OGIs happening next week, Dean Lawson has two suggestions which could help participating students. The first is to use the Career Services blog, Caseload, for tips and news on the second round of OGIs and how to schedule callbacks from interested firms. Lawson also recommends students attend Ralph Baxter’s presentation on Monday, September 17, on “How to Distinguish between Law Firms.” Baxter, who graduated from the Law School in 1974, is the chairman and CEO of Orrick, Herrington, and Sutlciffe.

Lawson also points out that the process of landing just the right job is different for every student. Some find that their summer associate’s job is not all they thought it might be. Some find the firm they worked for may have been too big or too small, the location too urban or rural.  Lawson urges disappointed rising 3Ls to “jump back in the pool” if their 2L  summer experience wasn’t right for them. “Evaluate what you did or didn’t like and re-interview as a 3L,” she said.
• Reported by Ken Reitz