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Bye-Bye, OCI? Law Firms Pursue 'Free Market' Alternatives to 'Artificial' Campus Recruiting

Thu, September 14, 2023 4:05 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

Written by: Justin Henry, Christine Charnosky, and Jessie Yount

A growing number of law school students are being recruited ahead of the formal on-campus interview (OCI) process to Am Law 50 firms like Palo Alto, California-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Boston-based Goodwin Procter. Meanwhile, other firms like Los Angeles-based Sheppard Mullin are exploring the possibility of early recruiting to avoid losing out in the competition for scouting law school talent.

Last year, firms reported making more early offers than in any previous survey conducted by the National Association for Law Placement—3,145 offers in total, or 23.3% of all offers to second-year students for summer 2023 programs. That’s nearly twice the number of early offers made in 2021, when firms made a total of only 1,771 early offers, or 12.3% of all offers to second-year students.

Law school students tend to start bidding for interview spots for 2L summer programs in the lead up to their second year of law school, but through pre-OCI recruiting, students are engaging with firms as early as February, law school deans say.

It’s no surprise that many of the most elite players in the industry have sought a more “free market alternative” to OCI, which NALP executive director Niki Gray described as a “very artificial process.” That sentiment is echoed by several of the firms that use pre-OCI recruiting.

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