Morgan Lewis: 5 Things You Should Know As An LGBTQ Student Interviewing for Big Law
After surviving 1L, staying up late to complete your write-on competitions, and working through a challenging first year summer internship, OCI is probably the last thing on your mind. From experience, however, I suspect this isn’t true and that many of you have spent hours on top of your already rigorous schedules preparing. To assist and make life a little easier from now until August, here are some helpful hints to consider when preparing for an interview in Big Law.
- Don’t shy away from your accomplishments. Whatever you do, don’t minimize or shy away from your accomplishments. I see this most prevalent with diverse candidates who are unsure whether to speak on certain items on their resume. If you did something great or are proud of something on your resume, your interviewer wants to hear all about it!
- Do your research. When you’re navigating through the sea of law firms, it’s often hard to distinguish between them all. There are, frankly, a lot of us. As a way to better prepare you for the likely many interviews you will have between now and the beginning of your second year, I suggest you take some time to really look into a firm. Not only spend time looking on the firm’s website but also meet with attorneys and ask questions that you really want to know. And ask tough questions. As a diverse candidate, know that it is ok to ask about a firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and ok to ask to be put in touch with members of a firm’s LGBTQ network.
- Avoid boilerplate and practice, practice, practice. Whatever you do, avoid boilerplate responses when interviewing (i.e. saying you’re interested in a firm because of the “people” or saying a firm is great because of “its commitment to pro bono”). You are not robots and neither are we. The best candidates are able to effectively articulate a response without it seeming rehearsed. Trust me, I know this is no easy feat. Practice makes perfect. Try to connect with a mentor ahead of time, a colleague from law school or someone you met from an area bar association event and see if they’re able to run through questions with you. Many area affinity networks and bar associations host mock interviews, which provide a great way to get a taste of what an OCI interview is really like.
- Mentorship. As an LGBTQ law student, particularly one who grew up in a small town, mentoring has always been key for me. I see it as a way to connect on a personal and professional level with someone who has walked in your shoes or can relate somewhat to you experiences. I also see it as a way to grow professionally—either by meeting future employers or clients. My fourth “thing you should know” is that mentoring matters and will set you apart from other candidates come OCI. When you connect with lawyers from different law firms, don’t shy away from asking about their diversity networks, particularly whether they have mentoring within their firms for LGBTQ lawyers.
- Firms Want You To Succeed. At the end of the day, your interviewer wants you to succeed. This is not a 1L Constitutional Law cold-call – this is an interview for your Firms want you to succeed because diverse candidates add significant value to firms and to the legal profession. And, don’t forget, the choice is up to you!