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)