Monday, July 30, 2012


On Campus Interviewing (also known as "OCI") kicks off at law schools during the next few weeks.  Rising 2Ls are wondering about their OCI chances; some have suggested that they may withdraw from law school if they don't fare well at OCI.  What are their prospects? What percentage of law students actually land jobs through OCI?

The numbers probably are grimmer than you imagine.  Nationally, only 12.7% of 2011 graduates report that they obtained post-JD jobs through a fall OCI program.  That percentage includes grads who obtained jobs during their 2L OCI (parlaying a summer job into a permanent offer) and those who landed a job through OCI in their final year.

Now, some graduates undoubtedly turned down OCI offers to pursue other opportunities.  Judicial law clerks, for example, don't get their jobs through OCI.  When they reported jobs nine months after graduation, they reported the mechanisms for obtaining their clerkships--not the ways in which they obtained other offers.  Those clerks may have OCI-based offers on hold while they finish their clerkships.  In that sense, the NALP percentage of "jobs obtained through OCI" underestimates the full pay-off from fall OCI.

But in another way, the NALP figure greatly overstates the percentage of students who obtain jobs through OCI. NALP calculates the 12.7% figure from a pool that includes only employed graduates who report the source of their job.  Thousands of 2011 grads had no job at all nine months after graduation.  They certainly didn't benefit from OCI, but the 12.7% figure ignores their fate.  Nor do we know the job-hunting paths of employed graduates who didn't tell their schools how they found those jobs.  Chances are that less than 12.7% of them obtained their jobs through OCI: The Career Services Office tends to hear about (and report) the jobs that stem from OCI.

Taking these factors into account, OCI might have netted jobs for as few as 7.6% of the class of 2011.  (That's 3,375 graduates who reported obtaining jobs through OCI divided by 44,495 total graduates.)  A more generous estimate would be 10.9%.  That figure multiplies the percentage of graduates who were employed (85.7%) by the percentage of the employed who reported obtaining a job through OCI (12.7%).

How does that figure compare to earlier years?  For those comparisons, we have to go back to the 12.7% reported by NALP for the class of 2011.  That percentage is half the rates reported from 2002 through 2009.  In those years, the percentage of grads obtaining jobs through OCI ranged from 22.6% to 25.3%.  Between 2009 and 2011, the percentage plunged from 23.4% (in 2009) to 16.9% (in 2010) to 12.7% in 2011.  Like every other employment statistic, OCI rates cratered after 2009.  Only half as many students find jobs through OCI today as they did before the recession.

On the other hand, these OCI figures remind us that law school has never provided the magic carpet to employment that many 0Ls imagine.  Even before 2009, no more than a quarter of law students lined up jobs through OCI.  At least three quarters networked, sent out resumes, and pounded the pavement.  Today, almost ninety percent of law students will rely on those techniques--and a significant percentage of them won't find jobs at all.

But enough about averages:  What about your personal chances of finding a job through OCI?  Most law schools don't feature the "job source" percentages on their career services website, but you can get those figures.  Ask any member of your school's Career Services Office what percentages of 2011 grads (a) obtained jobs and (b) reported landing those jobs through OCI.  Multiply those two percentages to estimate the percentage of your classmates who will find post-JD jobs through OCI.

Don't assume that your school's OCI prospects are rosier than the national average, just because your school is in Tier One or Two. Students at the very top schools snap up more than their share of OCI jobs, leaving less for everyone else. Here are some percentages I calculated from 2011 NALP forms available on the web (and kudos to these schools for posting their full forms):
  • Boston College: 26.1% got jobs through fall OCI (89.8% employed x 29.1% OCI)
  • Indiana-Bloomington: 9.8% got jobs through fall OCI (90.7% employed x 10.8% OCI)
  • Michigan State: 9.9% got jobs through fall OCI (89.6% employed x 11.1% OCI)
  • New York Law School: 2.0% got jobs through fall OCI (81.3% employed x 2.5% OCI)
  • Seton Hall:  6.0% got jobs through fall OCI (90.3% employed x 6.7% OCI
  • University of Akron: 1.7% got jobs through fall OCI (90.5% employed x 1.9% OCI) 
  • USC: 23.4% got jobs through fall OCI (82.4% employed x 28.4% OCI)
  • Washington & Lee: 4.8% got jobs through fall OCI (89.7% employed x 5.4% OCI)
The good news is that you shouldn't feel bad if you don't land a job through OCI--most of your classmates won't get one either.  The bad news is that you will have to work very hard to find a law job: Despite what your parents think (and what the law schools claim), employers aren't flocking to law schools.  The bottom line for everyone is:  Don't go to law school (or sign up for another semester) unless (a) you really want a legal job; (b) you're willing to work very hard to find that job; (c) you'll be satisfied with the kind of jobs available outside OCI (i.e., jobs other than BigLaw); and (d) you're willing to spend the rest of your life writing sentences like this.


  1. My decision to drop out (from a Top 14 school with top 25% grades) feels better every day.

  2. ^^^ Humph. You may actually have turned out to have been one of those considered a "winner" in the law school game. Particularly if you were not paying sticker at your t14. And assuming of course that you still felt like law practice of one sort orannuder may have been for you.

  3. please start bringing some funny

  4. @9:09 law practice sounded miserable. I wasn't paying sticker but my debt would still have pushed 6 figures. I love my life now, even though I don't make a ton of money and have a year of loans to pay off.

  5. @ 8:41 / 9:22, good for you (wo)man. Glad to hear it's working out for you.

  6. About time oci gets exposed for the joke it is.

  7. "please start bringing some funny"

    So, lawyer and an engineer both at a fancy all-inclu tropical resort. As they mingle at cocktails, it turns out both are there funded by insurance settlements they got.

    The lawyer bragged that he got a sweet settlement when his house burned down.

    "Wow, what a coincidence", said the engineer. "I'm here because I lost my house, too - in an Earthquake!"

    The lawyer looked thoughtful for a couple of seconds, then confused.

    "But... ...I don't get it." said the lawyer. "How do you start an Earthquake?"

  8. What's funny is the number "reporting" -- like these law schools couldn't make phone calls and track their grads down very easily.

  9. Most people find jobs through their own search and efforts. Many return to their prior industry, after being saddled with mortgage-sized , non-dischargeable debt.

  10. i think the majority of the people reading this website don't care about OCI outside the top20 schools. to paint OCI stats with such a broad brush is almost meaningless.

  11. 9:41 - we don't answer the phone when it is any of my schools or any of my spouse's schools calling.... ...I can't imagine that we're unusual in this one regard.

    1. Really! The request to donate to the old alma mater start immediately!

  12. Back in the 1990s at UCONN OCI performed the following functions.

    1) A Connecticut "Big Law" firm would call OCI and have them put up some advertisements, "Dewey Cheatem, and Howe will be coming for job interview, please submit your trancript along with your resume."

    DC&H would then interview only law students in the top 10% of the class.

    2)OCI would retain and update files on job openings, many of which were from out of state for which UCONN grads would be at a disadvantage.

    3) OCI would occasionally sponsor workshops and speakers on getting that legal job. I remember that Kimm Alayne Walton, author of "Guerrilla Tactics for getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams" spoke at UCONN, I suspect that OCI sponsored her.

    OCI in essence served as an administrative assistant to the big law firms that wished to advertise at UCONN, and the rest of their function could be covered by Monster.Inc.

    I suspect that except perhaps at the T-14 schools, OCI cannot do any more for the average Law School Grad.

    It would be more honest to simply tell 1Ls, "If you are in the top 20% of your class the administrative assistant might be able to schedule you for an on campus interview, otherwise we can do nothing to help you so you need to start looking off campus immediately for a summer or permanent job by yourself.

  13., my apologies

  14. I'll be starting my 2L year later next month and I'm shocked that I don't know of a single person in my 1L class of about 240 people that is not returning.

    I'm struggling to return, but I will because I'm in about the top 12-15% and pay only a couple thousand per year due to scholarships. The worst part for me isn't that the classes are BS, but seeing and hearing most of the other students delude themselves about their futures.

    Being in the thick of it, and seeing how stubbornly those already inside stick to their idea of a JD, providing additional info on the shitty job prospects makes almost on difference. I'm afraid that the people who have decided that they want to go to law school might be just as stubborn.

    From what I can tell, my classmates simply DO NOT COMPREHEND WHAT IT MEANS TO OWE 6 FIGURES. Think about it--most law students are K-JD. They have never really had to concern themselves with being financially responsible. They think the debt is going to be easy to get rid of because they've gotten this far without being burdened by it.

    I cannot convince anyone because everyone thinks the averages don't apply to them.

    Left Turn: What is the big difference between how one looks at "for profit" colleges and so-called "public universities"? If the govt. is willing to apply outcome based requirements (employment vs. debt) to them, how is the govt. so blind to the others?

  15. On Seton Hall, they list 11 grads of 278 who got their jobs through OCI, which is only 3.95 percent, well below the 6 percent you listed here.

    They are counting 100 "judicial clerks" -- which are not the real judicial clerks other schools report nor are they long term jobs -- which heavily skews their numbers under the fiormula you use.

  16. W&L's class size is 110-130. So 4.8% means 5 kids got jobs through OCI. Such a fuss they make about OCI...and for only five jobs!

    Of course the kinds of jobs available outside OCI are drying up too, especially the once plentiful, now extremely rare, public sector law jobs.


  17. OCI was a joke at my T2 over 20 years ago. The same handful of people (top 10% of the 2L class) showing up in their interview clothes day after day while the other 90% of the class was left to fend for themselves. And bear in mind, the vast majority of Career Service’s time and effort was devoted to the OCI process, which only benefitted this small minority of the class which needed the least amount of help finding a job.

  18. I published my own perspective on OCI here:

  19. I don't recall this blog covering law school giving that much. I imagine it's a difficult subject to investigate, because I would think most schools do not publish much information regarding how much they receive, who it comes from, and how it is spent. But it is another part of the "scam."

    I would assume law schools are encountering quite a bit of resistance from new law grads who, on average, are not in jobs that can support their indebtedness.

  20. OCI should be a wake-up call for law students. It should make the academic have-nots fnially see how slim their chances really are of ever getting work as lawyers, let alone work that will pay enough to enable them to service their debt if the stay in law school.

    Sadly, everything conspires against students' getting this message.

  21. The whole damm eduction system is broken. Read this report on some of the for profit schools (not law) in Florida. Totally ripping off the taxpayers.,0,6249068.story

  22. Read this report on some of the for profit schools (not law) in Florida. Totally ripping off the taxpayers.

    This also demonstrates that non-profit schools have a better lobby than for-profits.

  23. "...I would think most schools do not publish much information regarding how much they receive, who it comes from, and how it is spent. "
    - My UG and LS both publish alumni and local business donor lists each year and include amounts donated, except for the (rare) exception of the "requested anonymity" donations (for which the amount is still listed, just not the donor). My wife's schools also do the same thing. And generally speaking, donors may designate their money to various funds set up by the school. Of course "general" donations are always welcomed.... But maybe it is different for strictly private schools - we went to state "flagship" U's in 3 states and they all behave as mentioned above.

    "...I would assume law schools are encountering quite a bit of resistance from new law grads who, on average, are not in jobs that can support their indebtedness."
    - You've got to be right on the money on this one.

  24. "Of course 'general' donations are always welcomed...."

    Indeed, unrestricted donations are strongly preferred. Fund-raisers despise restricted donations, unless they're being made in response to a specific appeal.

  25. ^^^ Yes, and we really enjoy our status as despised donors! :-)

  26. Another aspect of the donating is the advertised donation rate. My school claims a high rate and will report you as giving if you pledge only $5. I remember as a 0L thinking "wow these people must really be happy with their law school for so many of them to be donating money."

    Even though I have a good job I won't give them a dime. I also don't answer phone calls although I know my school has found me through google (they solicit me for donations through my work e-mail which pisses me off to no end).

  27. This was a really good post. DJM is starting to find her groove.

  28. This blog has successfully inoculated me against ever again feeling the slightest urge to make a donation to my law school.

  29. commenters like 10:35PM hit the nail on the head - my own experience was that career services are simply providing administrative support to Biglaw that come on campus and students who are not biglaw material have to fend for themselves. maybe someone can answer this question: for a law firm interviewing at a local law school, what's the point of OCI? why not solicit resumes and set aside interview dates at the office? oh wait then the law firms' admins would have to spend time and resources scheduling these interviews, greeting the students and shepherding them around - if you use OCI, the career services schlubs do all the work for you. it reminds me of the NBA and NFL having absolutely free minor league systems called college sports. Biglaw is the big money sports league and career services are the colleges providing the free support.

  30. @8:35 There are some misconceptions here. Having an attorney spend a day doing OCI costs a lot more than having a secretary go through a stack of resumes and throw out any one with a GPA below 3.5 (or whatever the firm's cut-off is for a given school).

    The reason why big firms go to 2d tier and TTT schools is that the schools beg them to do so. Firms reluctantly comply because they don't want to seem too churlish too often. Lower schools are desperately trying to sell their students to law firms.

  31. To understand this, one simply has to understand which employers use on campus interviews. The on campus interviewers primarily are the big law firms. As a practical matter, most big law firms only hire from the top 10% of the class. No one else need apply.

    Of course, while this is useful for the top 10%, this is also the group which will have fewer problems finding a job in the first place. But it offers very little for the bottom 90%

    Of course, the military tends to do on campus interviews. However, I understand there is not much need for JAG officers at the moment.

    Small and medium firms generally are not going to do on campus interviews. It costs too much to travel around the country and takes away from a lot of billable hours. There are less expensive ways to recruit.

    Similarly most public agencies, including almost all local governments, do not do on campus interviewing. I have been on both sides of the hiring fence for local governments, big and small, in Colorado, and have yet to see one use on campus interviews. Perhaps its because vacancies open quickly and tend to either be filled quickly or not at all.

    High Plains Lawyer

  32. Re: Law school giving.

    My law school (part of a non-profit u.) lists in most years - except last year why could that be:) - the total given to the law school as well as all donors that gave more than $100. I've noticed that even though the LS alumni base is only about 15% of all alums, they account for slightly more than half of all donations to the university (and this is at a TTT.)

    I'm actually a regular donor to my law school (one of only perhaps 5 who graduated in the last 5 years), because I was lucky enough not to leave with tons of debt and genuinely enjoyed my experience there. If I had debt at sticker in my current situation I likely wouldn't give them a penny.

  33. No disrespect, but voluntarily donating money to a law school -- over and above the price agreed in advance -- because one genuinely enjoyed one's experience there has always seemed the height of irrationality to me.

    Not long ago I bought a big flat-screen Samsung TV. I genuinely enjoy watching it. It works just as represented. It has improved the quality of my life. But if Samsung asked me for a voluntary donation I'd politely (and bemusedly) tell them to get lost.

    My law school (T-14, circa 1980) worked out fine for me, but if I was making a list of deserving charitable recipients of my finite funds, no law school would come close to featuring.

  34. 2:02,
    Why? If there's something you enjoyed (maybe some random club/organization on campus) there's nothing wrong with a directed donation to support it so others can enjoy it in the future.

    I paid full price and the organizations at my school were well-funded by my tuition so I'm not inclined to give but I could see why others might. I'd never give to the general slush fund though.

  35. 2:02 here,

    I suppose I donate to the school because I know at least some of that money goes to students, besides the current flawed law school structure would still be there even without my $20 a month.

  36. This kind of information is very limited on the internet. Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria. You write your articles very well.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.