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On-Campus Interview Program (OCI)

Purpose

University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) JD and domestic and foreign LLM students seek employment experiences in private practice, from large firms to solo practices; in federal, state and local government agencies; in corporations and businesses; and in non-profit organizations. To facilitate this process, the Career Development Office (CDO) organizes the On-Campus Interview Program (OCI), which allows students the opportunity to interview with legal employers on campus.

Participation

Every year OCI brings over 100 prospective employers to UHLC’s campus to recruit students for summer, academic year, and permanent employment positions. OCI is broken into several sessions across the academic year.

OCI: Session I (Early-August) – This is our largest OCI session with over 80 employers participating. This session is a great avenue for multi-national employers to recruit 2L and 3L students for summer and permanent employment.OCI: Session II (Mid-October) – Session II is usually smaller than the first session with 15 to 20 employers participating. Regionally-based employers and government and non-profit organizations utilize this session to recruit 2L and 3L students.OCI: Session III (Mid-January) – The third OCI session typically draws employers who are seeking 1L students for summer employment.

Below you will find the most frequently asked questions regarding the On-Campus Interview Program (OCI).

General On-Campus Interview (OCI) Related Questions

The On-Campus Interview Program (OCI) allows students the opportunity to interview with legal employers on campus. OCI takes place in three stages: 1) OCI: Session I, 2) OCI: Session II, and 3) OCI: Session III.

The first stage, OCI: Session I, occurs the first week of August. This stage is the largest with over 80 employers participating. The second stage, OCI: Session II, occurs in mid-October and is usually smaller than the first stage with 10–15 employers participating. Employers seeking 2L and 3L candidates recruit during OCI: Session I and OCI: Session II. The third stage, OCI: Session III, occurs in mid-January and is typically reserved for employers seeking 1Ls for summer employment.



Click here for recruiting policy.

Sessions I and II of OCI are open to rising 2Ls and 3Ls currently enrolled at the Law Center. OCI: Session III is open to all students currently enrolled at the Law Center, but is usually targeted towards 1Ls.

Students who have completed the first year of the part-time program are considered 2Ls and are eligible to participate in OCI: Session I. Transfer students are also eligible to participate in OCI: Session I.

Please remember that eligible students will only be able to see employers that are recruiting at their class level. For example, a 3L student participating in OCI: Session I will only be able to view employers looking for 3L candidates, NOT the entire list of employers participating in the session.

For more information, please contact the CDO.

Any OCI information will be emailed to the email address listed in your Symplicity account. If using your school email account, please be sure to empty your inbox and deleted items to have sufficient room for emails from the CDO.

Accept/Decline Interview Period – The period when preselected students may accept or decline interviews granted by employers.

Alternate Interview Sign Up Period – The period when alternate students may accept interviews based on available interview schedule space.

Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program – The period when CDO counselors and outside attorneys conduct mock interviews for students in preparation for on-campus interviews.

Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program Sign Up Period – The period when students sign up to participate in the Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program.

Bid – An application for a specific employer. The application includes a resume and any other documents requested by the employer.

Bidding Period – The period when students can place bids for employers participating in OCI.

On-Campus Interview Period – The period when employers come to campus to conduct interviews of the students who have accepted their interview request.

Resume Collection – A collection of application materials that an employer gathers from interested students and in lieu of coming to campus to interview viable candidates, the employer chooses to follow up with the candidates at the employer’s convenience and schedule interviews at the employer’s location.

Resume Review Deadline – Students must submit their resumes to their assigned counselor by this date in order to receive feedback prior to the first day of the Bidding Period. Resumes submitted after this date are not guaranteed to be reviewed before the Bidding Period begins.

Student Review Period – The period when students can log on to Symplicity and view the employers who have signed up to participate in OCI.

Below are the important dates for the 2024-2025 Academic Year:

OCI Session I: Monday, July 29, 2024 - Friday, August 2, 2024

  • Student Review Period: Monday, May 20, 2024 – Thursday, June 21, 2024
  • Student Bidding: Saturday, June 22, 2024 – Thursday, June 27, 2024
  • Accept/Decline Interview Period: Thursday, July 11, 2024 – Sunday, July 14, 2024
  • Alternate Accept/Decline Interview Period: Monday, July 15, 2024
OCI: Session I Interviews: 
  • In-person – Monday, July 29, 2024 – Wednesday, July 31, 2024 
  • Virtually – Thursday, August 1, 2024 – Friday, August 2, 2024

OCI: Session II:  Friday, October 11, 2024

  • Student Review Period: Friday, September 1, 2024
  • Student Bidding: Friday, September 13, 2024 – Monday, September 16, 2024 
  • Accept/Decline Interview Period: Tuesday, September 24, 2024 – Friday, September 27, 2024
  • OCI: Session II Interviews: In-person – Friday, October 11, 2024

The following documents should be prepared before the Bidding Period begins:

Resume – GPAs should be brought out to the thousandth; do not round up. You may update your class rank, but only if utilizing your spring GPA. If you choose to update your resume with your summer GPA, you may not include a class rank (which is based on spring grades) and you must use the following format “GPA through Summer 2018: _____”.). Finally, do not calculate between percentages (e.g., Top 12%) when denoting your class rank.

Cover Letter –  If an employer requests it, you must provide a cover letter to bid for that employer. (Symplicity will not accept your bid unless a cover letter has been uploaded.)  Cover letters should be addressed by name (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith”) to the hiring attorney or recruiter at the firm. If a cover letter is not requested, it is not necessary to include.

Transcript – Employers have agreed to accept unofficial transcripts. Please use the Unofficial Transcript Form found in the Career Resource Library on Symplicity as a template. Be sure your transcript includes your name, the name of the school, and a cumulative GPA.

Writing Sample – The preferred page range for a writing sample is 5 to 10 pages.

1.    Log in to Symplicity.

2.    Click on the “Documents” tab located under your profile picture at the top of the navigation bar.

3.    Click on the “Add New” button to upload a new document.

4.    Enter the title of your document in the “Label” field. Remember to include your name in the title for all documents (e.g., “Resume – John Doe”). Also, for cover letters, be sure to include the name of the employer in the title (e.g., “John Doe Cover Letter – Smith & Smith LLP”).

5.    Select a “Document Type”.

6.    Under “File”, click on the “Choose File” button to select a file to upload.

7.    Choose the document and click “Open”.

8.    Once you select the document click on the “Submit” button.

Please note that you cannot bid unless you have uploaded all the documents requested by an organization.

If you have the ability to convert Word documents into .pdf documents, always convert your documents to .pdf prior to uploading them to Symplicity. This will eliminate any conversion errors with Symplicity. Symplicity will add a header and footer to the resume when it is sent to employers. Thus, you should make sure your resume has at least a .5” margin.

If you do not have .pdf conversion software (such as Adobe), you may upload your Word document to Symplicity, which will convert it for you. However, please be aware that if your Word document contains excessive formatting or macros, or if it was created using a template, the format may be altered during the conversion process.

Once your document is uploaded and converted to a .pdf, be sure to open and view the .pdf document to ensure that there have been no format alterations. If the format on your document changes during the conversion, you may need to modify the format of your Word document and re-upload it to Symplicity. If you continue to have difficulties, please contact the CDO.

Uploading Transcripts

The file you receive from UH’s official transcript service may be delivered as a secure .pdf and will require a password to view. Before you upload this document into Symplicity for bidding you must ensure that the file is unsecured (not password protected). Below are several methods for removing the security from a password-protected or secure .pdf.

Option 1: Print to PDF

Chrome –
1. Open the PDF document (in Chrome) and provide the password it requires.
2. Click the “Print” button on the PDF toolbar while viewing the password-protected document.
3. Click the “Change” button under Destination and select “Save as PDF”.
4. Click the “Save” button and you’ll be prompted to provide a name and location for your new PDF.
5. Your new PDF will contain the same content as the original PDF, but won’t be password-protected.

Windows –
1. Open a protected PDF document in Microsoft Edge and provide the password to view it.
2. Click the “Print” button on the PDF viewer toolbar after you have.
3. Select the “Microsoft Print to PDF” printer and click “Print”. You’ll be prompted to choose a name and location for your new PDF file.
4. You can do this method in any PDF viewer on Windows 10. Just select the “Microsoft Print to PDF” printer. On older versions of Windows, you’ll need to install a third-party PDF printer before you can perform this method (or just use Chrome).

Mac –
1. Open the protected document in Preview and provide the password it requires.
2. Click File > Print to open the print dialog.
3. Click the “PDF” menu button at the bottom of the print dialog and select “Save as PDF”.
4. Enter a file name and location for your new PDF file when prompted. The new PDF file will have the same contents as the original, but no password.

Option 2: Remove Security with Adobe Acrobat Pro

1. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro and provide its password to view it.
2. Click the lock icon at the left side of the window and click “Permission Details”. You can also click File > Properties and click the “Security” tab.
3. Click the “Security Method” box, select “No Security”, and click “OK” to remove the password.
4. Click File > Save to save your changes. You can also just close the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC window and you’ll be prompted to save your changes. Once you have, the password will be removed from the original PDF file.

OCI: Session I employers will be available to review in Symplicity on May 20. Keep in mind that you should check Symplicity frequently after May 20 as employers will continue to be added as they register. You can also view participating employers from the 2023 OCI: Session I in .pdf format located here.

Students will be able to view employers for Session II, and III of OCI once the Bidding Period begins for those stages.

A great place to start is the employer’s website. Additionally, you can review employer profiles on Symplicity. Finally, these websites provide valuable information on large law firms:

National Association of Law Placement (NALP)

Chambers Associate

Vault

Martindale

The Legal 500 (US Firms)

When researching, remember to investigate the following:

Hiring criteria (and manage your bids accordingly)

Practice areas and sizes

UHLC alumni presence

Recent press (mergers, office openings/closings, high profile cases, etc.)

Work environment/culture

OCI Bidding Questions

1.    Log in to Symplicity.

2.    Click on the “OCI” tab on the top navigation bar

3.    The “Employers/Bidding” tab should automatically default when you click on the “OCI” tab.

4.    Select your desired session from the “Session” drop-down menu. The resulting list of employers contains only those that have requested your class year. These are employers you are eligible to submit your resume to. Note that by clicking “More Filters” you can search employers by size, type, state, date, practice area, or by location if the employer has provided this information.

5.    Review relevant information about an employer by clicking on the “Review” button to the left of the desired organization.

6.    To bid for an employer, click the “Review” button located to the left of the desired organization or the “Apply” button to the right of the screen. You will then be redirected to a review screen.

7.    To apply, click the “Apply” button at the right of the “Bid Details” box to the right of the screen. Please pay close attention to this box. If a document type is listed here, it is a REQUIRED document for this specific employer. For example: If “Cover Letter” is in this box, and “none found” is to the right, you must return to the “Documents” section and upload a cover letter.

8.    Your default resume* will be included with each application. To change your resume (or any required documents), select the appropriate document from the drop-down menu in the “Bid Details” box.

*In the Symplicity “Documents” tab in the top navigation bar, you can select one of your resumes to become your default resume for all employers you apply to by clicking “Make Default”.

When you have a limited number of bids and a limited number of interviews you may accept, you want to bid strategically. Some things to look for when considering which employers to bid on:

What are the employer’s listed requirements?

The largest firms are typically the ones that have strict GPA cutoffs and are going to be the most competitive. Keep an open mind and be cognizant of your GPA. If you do not fall within 5 to 10% of their listed GPA cutoff, consider bidding on other small to mid-size firms that may have more relaxed GPA requirements.

Is the firm’s summer associate program the first, second, or full summer?

Most firms’ summer associate programs will be for either the first half of the summer or the full summer. Very few firms maintain a second-half only summer program. Distribute your bids accordingly. Employers are generally not flexible when it comes to the dates of their summer programs.

What kind of work does the Houston office of this firm do?

Most large firms list all of their practice areas on their website. But do your research! Take a look at what type of work the partners and associates in Houston are doing. A great place to get this type of information is on the NALP website. Find the profile of the firm’s Houston office, then click “Practice Areas”. All practice areas conducted in that particular office of the firm will be listed along with the number of associates and partners participating in those practice areas. Make sure that your interests and background speak to that type of work.

For OCI: Session I, students have a limited number of bids to submit and a limited number of interviews to accept. You will be informed of the maximum number of bids and interviews prior to the Bidding Period. For Sessions II and III of OCI, there are no limits to the number of bids or interviews you may accept. Note that you may bid on as many Resume Collection employers as you like as Resume Collection bids do not count towards your total number of bids.

To delete a bid, log back in to Symplicity, click on the “Recruiting” tab and ensure that the session is set to your desired session. Below your desired session, you will see your employers, interview dates, documents, and bidding status. Simply click "Withdraw" on the right-hand side of the screen to delete a bid.

Remember that you can bid and withdraw bids at any time during the Bidding Period. Your bids are locked in once the Bidding Period ends.

In order to bid on an employer, you must have all application materials requested by that employer uploaded to the “Documents” tab. For example, if the firm of Smith & Smith LLP requires a resume, cover letter, and unofficial transcript, then all three must be uploaded to the “Documents” tab before Symplicity will allow you to bid on Smith & Smith.

However, Symplicity will only allow you to upload 12 application materials at a time. This means that once you bid on Smith & Smith LLP, you may need to delete your existing application materials in the “Documents” tab in order to make room for new application materials tailored to another employer. Rest assured that deleting your application materials from the “Documents” tab will not affect your previously submitted bids.

To update your resume, log back in to Symplicity, and upload the revised resume under the “Documents” tab. Then click on the “OCI” tab and ensure that the session is set to your desired session. Under the “Default OCI Resume” box, you will be able to update your default resume by clicking “Update Default”. If you want to submit an updated resume to all of the employers you previously bid on click “Update All”. This will update your resume on all of your bids. Note that you can only update your resume during the Bidding Period. After the Bidding Period ends, all bids are locked in and you cannot make any additional changes.

The following documents should be prepared before the Bidding Period begins:

Resume – GPAs should be brought out to the thousandth; do not round up. You may update your class rank, but only if utilizing your spring GPA. If you choose to update your resume with your summer GPA, you may not include a class rank (which is based on spring grades) and you must use the following format “GPA through Summer 2018: _____”.). Finally, do not calculate between percentages (e.g., Top 12%) when denoting your class rank.

Cover Letter –  If an employer requests it, you must provide a cover letter to bid for that employer. (Symplicity will not accept your bid unless a cover letter has been uploaded.)  Cover letters should be addressed by name (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith”) to the hiring attorney or recruiter at the firm. If a cover letter is not requested, it is not necessary to include.

Transcript – Employers have agreed to accept unofficial transcripts. Please use the Unofficial Transcript Form found in the Career Resource Library on Symplicity as a template. Be sure your transcript includes your name, the name of the school and a cumulative GPA.

Writing Sample – The preferred page range for a writing sample is 5 to 10 pages.

OCI Interview Questions

During the Accept/Decline Interview Period, you must log in to Symplicity to see whether or not you have been chosen for any interviews. Keep in mind that you will not receive email notifications from Symplicity.

Log in to Symplicity and go to your desired session under the “OCI” tab and look for the following options:

If you have been selected by an employer for an interview, you will see two buttons under the “Invitations” column; the buttons will read “Accept Preselect” and “Decline.” Once you click on “Accept Preselect” you will be prompted to choose an interview time. Interview times are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have been selected by an employer for an alternate slot, you will see two buttons under the “Invitations” column; the buttons will read “Accept Alternate” and “Decline.” You will have to wait until the Alternate Interview Sign Up Period begins to log back in and sign up for any available interview slots.

If you were not selected by an employer for either an interview or alternate slot, you will see the words “Not Invited” in the “Invitations” column. There is nothing you need to do in the system for these instances.

Employers who participate in Resume Collection will contact students directly to schedule interviews at the employer’s location.

If more than one office of an employer participates in OCI, then you may only bid on one office. For example, if the Houston and Dallas offices of Smith & Smith LLP are both participating in OCI, you can only apply to one Smith & Smith LLP office. However, if the employer grants you an interview, you will have the opportunity to express your interest in multiple offices.

The best way to prepare yourself for OCI interviews is to participate in the Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program. The Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program pairs career counselors with practicing attorneys from the local legal community to conduct the interviews. To sign up for the Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program, log on to Symplicity and sign up during the Attorney/CDO Mock Interview Program Sign Up Period. Times are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Also remember, that you can sign up for a mock interview with your career counselor at any time during the year.

The most important thing to remember is that the interviewer should be focusing exclusively on what you have to say and the substance of your resume – no aspect of your dress or personal appearance should distract the prospective employer from the matter at hand.

For students who choose to wear pant suits to interviews, the CDO recommends dark suits (navy blue, charcoal grey, and black are all acceptable), dark shoes, white or light-colored shirts, and conservative ties without bold patterns. Pants should be at least ankle-length long. Students who opt to wear a skirt suit should also choose a dark suit, dark shoes with hosiery, and white or light-colored shirts/blouses. The skirt should be worn to the knee. Avoid skirt suits that are too tight or too short, and accompanying blouses that are too sheer or low-cut. Earrings are acceptable, but facial piercings should be removed prior to an interview.

Arrive at your interview location (Career Development Office) at least 10 minutes before your interview. If you have back-to-back interviews, please let one of the CDO Staff members checking you in know so we can inform the recruiters/employers if you are delayed.

It is in the best interest of both students and the school that students attend all scheduled interviews. If you must cancel an interview we ask you to do so at least 48 hours in advance.

If you miss an interview and you do not provide 48 hours advance notice, to remain in good standing and continue to participate in the career programs, you must prepare a letter of apology to each interviewer. The letter must be brought to Assistant Dean Tiffany J. Tucker within 48 hours of the missed interview for review and mailing by the office. More information on the CDO’s good standing policies can be found here: http://www.law.uh.edu/career/policies/goodstanding.asp.

We recommend handwritten thank you notes for interviewers and recruiters. Personalize the note to each interviewer, as they may all end up in one file. Some students find it useful to bring stationery on interview days and write the notes between interviews. Remember to check your spelling and grammar and make sure your handwriting is legible.

Some firms may make decisions very quickly and contact you very soon (within 24 hours) after the OCI interview to schedule a callback interview. Others may need more time to discuss candidates and may call much later.

Be prepared to receive these calls by making sure your outgoing telephone message is professional and up to date. Messages with music, background noise, or utilizing jokes are seen as unprofessional.

The callback interview is the chance for more people at the firm to meet you in order to decide if they would like to make an offer for you to join the firm for the summer. Callbacks usually last several hours and could include lunch or dinner. Typically, you will interview with numerous attorneys during the callback. While OCI: Session: I interviews occur two weeks before the semester begins, callback interviews happen throughout the school semester.

If you travel outside the area for a callback interview, some employers will reimburse you for expenses you incur, such as transportation, hotel accommodations, and meals. Discuss expense reimbursement policies and procedures before you travel to meet with the employers. The employer may have its own reimbursement forms. Refer to the Instruction Sheet for an idea of what information you will need to obtain for reimbursement

Most large law firms are members of the National Association of Law Placement (NALP). The NALP Principles and Standards specify how and when firms can make offers to law students and how and when law students must accept offers from NALP member firms. For example, employers offering positions for the following summer to 2L or 3L candidates not previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 28 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first. Review these guidelines here and talk to your career counselor if you have any questions.

It is important to note that the NALP guidelines only apply to NALP members. Some OCI employers are not NALP members, which means that they are not required to follow the aforementioned guidelines. For example, non-NALP employers offering positions for the following summer to 2L or 3L candidates not previously employed by them are not required to leave the offer open for 28 days and may request an answer sooner. You can determine which firms are NALP members by reviewing the firm’s profile on Symplicity or by visiting the NALP website. Always speak to your career counselor if you have any questions or concerns regarding offer timelines and please read the NALP Student Professionalism During the Interview Season handouts for more specific tips about accepting and declining offers.

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