I spent last September wrapping my head around the newness of law school—new classmates, new profs, new program, new lingo, new pressures… Second year has a comfortable familiarity to it that I am very much enjoying.
I also got to pick all my classes this year. One of the perks of going to a larger law school is that there are plenty of course options to choose from. I hemmed and hawed over my selections, and eventually decided to get a good number of the basics under my belt this year. I’m doing mostly standard classes that I figured would open my eyes to various practice areas: Corporations, Tax, Family, Intellectual Property, Administrative Law and Evidence. But I’m also doing a couple of classes for my pre-established love of the subject matter. For example, I’m taking a seminar on feminist analysis of Canadian law and legal systems. During my undergrad I took a course on feminist literary criticism to satisfy some prerequisite, and it turned out to be one of my all-time favourite classes. I am also doing a competitive moot to investigate whether I might want to be a litigator when I graduate. All in all, I am content with my plan and selections.
With that said, I can say with a high degree of certainty that upper year classes are both more demanding and more technical than first year. This is probably not surprising to anyone reading this blog, but it makes me regret getting my hopes up for a breezy semester of only 4 (rather than 6.5) classes.
Another substantial difference between first and second year is the hunt for second year summer positions. You see, I, and many of my classmates, would like to work for a firm or the government next summer. It’s an opportunity to get hands-on experience in various legal practice areas, as well as a way to secure articles (most places will hire back their summer students as articling students). Many of the firms that hire summer students do so through the On Campus Interview (OCI) process. “OCI” technically refers to a 17-minute interview between students and law firms, but the acronym “OCI” stands for much, much more. The OCI process begins over the summer, when hopeful students across the country research firms and prepare application packages. Firms respond by inviting candidates for OCI’s as a preliminary interview, but the hiring process does not end there. Fortunate students will be invited for second (and maybe third) interviews, which are more substantial and take place at the law firm. These interviews might also include dinners and other social events. The firms will make their actual hires at the end of October.
So OCI’s have been lingering in the back of my mind since the first day of classes.
While this process is a tad intimidating (some firms participate in OCI’s across the country, making the competition seem palpable), it might also be a way of avoiding some of the pitfalls of more traditional interviews: the more time students and firms spend together, the better they get to know each other. While nothing is a guarantee, it is possible that a second year summer position will turn into a career.
So, OCI’s start tomorrow! And I am nervous. I will let you know how they go!