Summer associate and lateral recruiting is at the heart of law firm life, and O’Melveny is always looking to welcome talented attorneys from a diverse set of backgrounds.
With the next class of summer associates going through the recruiting process, O’Melveny hiring partner Catalina Joos Vergara addressed common questions with helpful tips and insights about the recruiting and integration process.
Catalina serves on the Diversity Council and Women’s Advisory Board at O’Melveny. She also co-founded both the Women Attorneys’ Network and the Community Involvement Committee in her office. She discusses topics below including interview preparation, what makes a winning resume, and how to set yourself apart when starting with a law firm.
How would you recommend students best prepare for the summer recruiting season?
We see summer recruiting season as an incredibly important and exciting opportunity to meet law students, some of whom will become our future colleagues at the firm. O’Melveny recruits on campus at more than 25 schools and reviews direct submissions from law students studying at law schools all over the country. We are also very active on the lateral market. Recruiting is a time-consuming process, and one that demands a great deal from our attorneys and our talent development team—but it is worth it.
There are a number of things law students can do to prepare for the recruiting season. First, polish your resume! Use your on-campus resources for guidance, and make sure you flyspeck the document to make sure it’s perfect. (It helps to get someone else to review it with a fresh pair of eyes.) Second, gear up for your interviews. Many law schools and some firms, including O’Melveny, sponsor mock interview programs during the summer. Take advantage of those opportunities, particularly if you don’t have a great deal of interviewing experience. In advance of your actual interviews, take the time to research the firms and attorneys you are meeting with, and think of some specific questions you’d like to ask that will demonstrate you are truly interested in the firm. Having done your homework will make a good first impression.
Our firm-wide hiring partner, Allen Burton, also hosts an interactive podcast that addresses topics such as the summer associate experience and the first-year associate perspective. It can be a useful resource for students interested in learning more about O’Melveny and the practice of law.
What advice would you give candidates on how to impress during summer associate and lateral recruiting?
Just be yourself, and look for opportunities to articulate why you're interested the particular firm and would be a great fit. As with most firms, we at O’Melveny look for academic achievement and extracurriculars, such as journal and moot court experience—but the truly stellar candidates stand out because of some life experience or perspective that demonstrates they have good judgment, are committed to excellence, and are great team players. Think about how you might convey those attributes to your interviewers.
In addition—and as I have already mentioned—try to ask thoughtful questions when given an opportunity to do so during your interviews. Questions that come off as canned or that can easily be answered by looking at a firm’s website won’t help you stand out. Consider questions that either leverage recent news about a litigation win or significant deal at the firm, or probe your interviewer’s own law practice.
What makes a legal resume stand out during the summer recruiting season?
A winning resume, whether for summer associates or lateral candidates, is one that cleanly lists what you have accomplished, both academically and professionally. It should be well formatted and free of typos—and, unless you have extensive work or academic experience, should be limited to one page. Candidates should be ready to discuss anything that is featured on their resume, so keep that in mind! Particularly at the summer level, it’s also great to include volunteer work or personal interests to help showcase who you are.
How can candidates maximize their summer experience to understand everyday practice?
There are lots of ways for summer associates to gain an understanding of law firm practice during their summer at a firm. One is by making an effort to meet as many attorneys as possible, observe them working, and build relationships with them. Another is by seeking out real work experiences and taking advantage of opportunities for feedback. Your summer experience should be fun, but it will be most helpful to you in making career decisions if it is also substantive.
Finally, attend trainings and lunches when invited, even if it feels like your dance card is full. That is a great way to show that you are interested, get to know as many people as possible at the firm, and explore different practice areas (even if you may never end up practicing in those areas).
How can laterals set themselves apart when interviewing and integrating into the firm?
At the lateral level, recruiting is slightly different. We look for attorneys who have a clearly articulated reason for wanting to make a move to O’Melveny—but, again, it is important that they also explain why they might be a good fit at the firm and demonstrate an enthusiasm for joining us.
On that first piece, we focus on the candidate’s professional experience, and why O’Melveny might be the next logical step in his or her career. It’s important for us to understand the candidate’s legal experience and demonstrated record of success. The best lateral candidates are able to convey that clearly and persuasively.
On the second piece, we focus on the “fit,” much like we do when recruiting law students.
In terms of getting integrated into the firm, those who hit the ground running really make an effort to get to know their new colleagues and the firm’s practices areas, instead of waiting for opportunities to come their way. We have a very robust onboarding process that is designed to make sure we are giving our laterals the tools they need to succeed at the firm.
What sets your firm apart as an employer and recruiter?
We pride ourselves on not only being a great place to work, but also a firm that regularly is entrusted to handle the hardest cases and deals on behalf of our clients. We are honored to have been designated Vault’s Best Law Firm to Work For, #1 for Firm Culture, Best Law Firm for Associate/Partner Relations, and Best Summer Associate Program—but we also take great pride in the fact that we work hard to make sure our clients get the best possible results when they turn to us for counsel.
Diversity and inclusion are a critical part of our firm culture. O’Melveny was the first law firm to adopt the ground-breaking pymetrics software for hiring. Its goal is to produce unbiased assessments of candidates’ cognitive and emotional traits to widen the applicant pool and enhance the ability to assess candidates based on their potential, not pedigree. That’s just one example of how we live our commitment to diversity in everything that we do.
This is a sponsored post by O'Melveny & Myers. To view the firm's full profile, click here.
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