Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wait For It . . . 2010 OGI Details Revealed (But Still Plenty of Room to Speculate Wildly)

A few days ago, members of the current 1L class - the most qualified class at the Law School in the history of the world, that is - received an email from Career Services Dean Kevin Donovan.  The email contained a "heads-up" that OGI2k10 is on the horizon, and attached a very detailed "Handbook" on what students could expect.

Perhaps of greatest interest was the further fine-tuning of the old and epic "preselect vs. lottery" debate:
THE 2010 OGI SYSTEM 

The OGI system for 2010 will have three components: 

The first 60% of the candidates will be pre‐selected by private employers.  

The second 20% of the candidates will be selected from what we are calling Top 5 lists.  These are a list of the  students that selected a particular firm with one of their 
top 5 bids, EXCLUDING THOSE STUDENTS WHO HAVE 
BEEN PRE‐SELECTED.  In other words, the firms will not 
be able to use the lists to determine how their pre‐
selected students ranked the firm. 

The final 20% will be lottery.  For an explanation of how the lottery works, see How Symplicity Works on p. 10.  
The system was revised following an extensive evaluation of how our prior system worked under these challenging market conditions.  Based on that review, we determined that the system was not maximizing our yield of jobs.  We believe 
that this system will lead to more net jobs (and this view has been bolstered by 
the fact that a number of firms have told us that they are coming to Virginia to 
interview this year because of the way the system is structured).   

If you're interested in some of UVA Law Blog's previous writings on this issue from previous years, check here.  To us, it seems that Career Services has put a lot of thought into striking this balance, and we are optimistic. Nonetheless, some of our tipsters have concerns:

*Lots of confusion about whether or not the 'top 5' picks are pre-selected or not. It's a little unclear, but reading the calendar in the appendix I think it's indisputable that the firm picks from the list using GPA/resume. That means it's really a modified 80/20 system, but I hear a lot of people who think it's a modified 60/40 system.
*The week between preselects + top 5 preselects going out should be awkward

*When people decline preselects, does that mean MORE than 20% lottery, or will those slots go to pre-selected alternates?

*c/o 2012 now has absolutely no grade information about firms. Nothing vague, no generalities. If we want anything, we'll have to get it from career services 1 on 1. I heard there was a presentation last year laying it out in general terms for each class, it's nervous making not to have even that.

*Cover letters for each firm sounds extraordinarily obnoxious, because it takes the firm no effort to allow a custom cover letter, but with 50 bids it could be back-breaking to write 50 coherent ones.

*I saw no mention of the maximum # of interviews that can be accepted. Has there been a cap historically? Is there likely to be one this year?
We think the issue about historical GPAs for callbacks and offers given is especially important in a system whose success relies a lot on students having accurate information.  Hopefully, such information will be forthcoming. 

The guide itself is 53 pages long and in our humble opinion looks like a great resource for students and a definite enhancement over what has been done in previous years.  Especially useful might be some of the appendixes which provide very specific advice on how to handle various interview situations.  The document also contains the advice of ten "anonymous 2L commentators" who went through the process last year, which is actually pretty interest. So nice job, CSO.  Maybe the Phillies will win the World Series this year - I mean *anything* is possible, right?   According to the powers that be, a good deal of credit should also go to current SBA President, Chris Martin:
 . . . Chris Martin, played avery significant role in the creation of this document.  It was a meeting with him about how best to present information that led to many facets of this approach.  He also assembled the panel that provides the excellent strategy advice that is the core of the document.  
 So, what are your thoughts? 

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Minor point / correction: I'm the commenter who wrote "The week between preselects + top 5 preselects going out should be awkward." My wording was a little off - what will be awkward is the time (about a week) between when the combined pre-selects + top-5 preselects are announced and when the lottery is run.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Contradicting a potentially misleading statement in the OGI "Handbook" which suggests that already there are more firms which have signed up for rooms than the TOTAL number of firms which signed up last year, I spoke with Dean Lawson and she said that the number of firms attending OGI will likely be similar to last year's number.

Anyone else have an info about this?

Anonymous said...

To me this new system is really confusing. Sure, it'll technically benefit UVA if it brings more firms here for OGI (and thus, more jobs), but if students don't figure out the proper bidding strategies (which is no easy task), then this could do more harm than good.

Given how the 2009 OGI went I'm sure most people will put a lot of effort into making sure their bids aren't wasted, but I'm still a bit doubtful of this new, complex system.

Anonymous said...

From the OGI Handbook:

"We now have more room requests than last year and registrations are open until July 2, 2010. Many other employers have registered to collect resumes for summer associate positions."

This sounds like good news. But did OCS mean "more reservations relative to this time last year" or "already more total reservations than last year"?

Anonymous said...

Why do we even bother with lottery picks?

Anonymous said...

2L here thinking this is a great idea because it increases the information that you can communicate to the firm via the Top 5 list. While putting a firm in your top five already increased your lottery chances, this is an even stronger indication. Yes, this matters -- I spoke with an interviewer last year who said that the firm liked the lottery element because it knew that someone getting picked for his firm from there must have really been interested, which helps. So if your grades aren't quite good enough for Firm X, put them in your top five, have a killer interview, profit!

Also to the tipster who was concerned: c/o 2011 got VERY little grade info on firms. I think Lawson came and showed our section a quick Powerpoint with rough ranges and I'm not even sure about firm names. You should go talk to them 1 on 1. Honestly, the more time you spend with the CSO, the better. Historical info isn't that accurate now anyway thanks to the economy but CSO is still a good resource. Go become BFF with Kevin before OGI.

Anonymous said...

Dumb question: If you get interviews in DC and don't have a car, will firms pay for a train ticket or something? Or are you expected to hitch a ride with friends?

Second dumb question: Are profs forgiving about 2Ls missing class? Or do most callbacks get scheduled before classes start?

Third dumb question: Is it common for people to discuss, strategize, and plan with each other - or does it stay pretty private because people are private about grades?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the car question as well.

Rule 12 (f) said...

W/r/t the car question: They'll pay for your train ticket. Honestly it's probably cheaper than reimbursement at the federal rate (51.5 cents per mile IIRC). So, don't worry about it!

Also, if you have an early morning interview, they may pay for your hotel room. This will vary by firm, however.

DC callbacks are fun . . .

Anonymous said...

3L here - I have (as I suspect many of us do) an .xls entitled "2L Select Grades for Firms 06-07", containing average grade information for 210 firms that attended OGIs in 2006 and 2007, including what percentage of selects came from the bottom third of the class. This was available on the Career Services website back before we entered the OGI process. It isn't perfect information anymore, but I'm sure it could still serve as a good general yardstick for people unfamiliar with these firms.
If there was a way to distribute this such that only UVA students would have access, I would be happy to distribute, as I'm sure any of your 3L friends would be if they still have it saved somewhere.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:27

1. DC firms do reimburse travel costs, including train tickets, etc. I believe many offer a one-night hotel stay depending on the time of your interview.

2. Profs are extremely forgiving; most will record the classes and post to LawWeb. You will be missing many classes throughout September; it is rare but not unheard of to have callbacks before classes begin.

3. This depends on personal preference. General discussion is common; I'm not sure about shared strategy. I did not discuss "strategy," but I was interested in a market not many people flock to--and also, this mostly takes place over the summer, so you won't really be in contact with UVA people other than close friends.

--2L

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot 4:47, really appreciate it.

Right now I'm between what I assume is top third and top quarter (less than 3.48 but not by a whole lot). Would it be suicide to bid on DC? NYC?

Anonymous said...

"Right now I'm between what I assume is top third and top quarter (less than 3.48 but not by a whole lot). Would it be suicide to bid on DC? NYC? "

Last year, barring extraordinary factors, you would have gotten killed in DC. NY was far, far less competitive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 6:34. Looks like I'm either hoping for a better semester or a different market.

Anonymous said...

5:43, I personally wouldn't bid solely on DC unless I had comfortably above a 3.5. I know people with around that GPA + Law Review that did not receive a summer offer (did receive a few callbacks). There are also people with above that GPA that bid solely on DC and struck out.

This isn't to say that you can't get DC, but it'd be much safer to bid on NYC. At the very least, I would split between DC and NYC.

Anonymous said...

I definitely know a decent number of non-LR people (who I assume had good but not stellar GPAs) at good firms in DC. Not at all impossible, especially if the c/o 2012 market turns out to be better than c/o '11. (It HAS to be!) I agree that you shouldn't go all-in on DC but I wouldn't rule it out, especially if you have DC ties or good work experience or other stuff. Take it from me, GPA is a big big factor but there's a lot more to it, especially if you can pull up into top-quarter this semester.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is unconventional advice, but just give the place you want to be (within reason) a shot. If you have so-so grades and no ties to DC, then it'd be pretty silly to go for it. If you know that's where you want to work, have a reason for staying there, then go for it.

I get the strategy part, but think about it like this: suppose you have no desire at all to work in NY, but you'd be doing it as the safe bet. Maybe you get a job for the summer, then an offer. Great, you just locked yourself into living somewhere you don't want to be in the name of "strategy".

I went balls out in DC with so-so grades (even though I'm from NY) and got shut out. Shit happens. I made the choice that I had no interest in what I described above. I've lived in and around DC for close to 8 years now, and that was what I wanted. I made the best of it, found a job at a smaller place in NoVa that happens to specialize in the two things I'm most interested in. I get to live with my significant other for the summer and possibly start building my career in the place we both want to stay. Short of working at a firm in DC, I feel like things worked out the best they could have. You may not feel as connected to any particular area (and my sense is that you don't), but for those out there reading this who may, that's one person's take on it.

So, that's my take on this. Take it or leave it obviously, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to consider a full range of factors that may play into your decision besides which city will have the highest offer rates.

Anonymous said...

how did mr. wgwag get cravath when they didnt even do oci here?

Anonymous said...

Those barfturd 2012 gunners having better job prospects that me just melts my face off.

Anonymous said...

1:21 - that's because we're the best class ever!

Anonymous said...

1:10, Cravath does do OCI here, at least they used to . . .

and if you get an interview, please go in well prepared and don't waste it, which I know many people did/do, despite knowing it was a tight market

Anonymous said...

Cravath didn't do OCI last year. They probably did before that.

Anonymous said...

Correct, CravaTTTh canceled their OGI last year in favor of a resume drop, but usually they come.

Anonymous said...

Yep, there was no grade information for class of 2011 last year from career services unless you talk 1 on 1. I got a hold of a spreadsheet with grades from P.A.s, but nothing from CSO. The policy is the same as it was last year.

My advice is talk to CSO before OGIs and practice interviewing if you aren't great at it. It should be better than last year, but I am guessing there will be a lot of people that strike out on OGIs this year like they did last year.

Anonymous said...

Yep, there was no grade information for class of 2011 last year from career services unless you talk 1 on 1. I got a hold of a spreadsheet with grades from P.A.s, but nothing from CSO. The policy is the same as it was last year.

My advice is talk to CSO before OGIs and practice interviewing if you aren't great at it. It should be better than last year, but I am guessing there will be a lot of people that strike out on OGIs this year like they did last year.

Anonymous said...

If you have average grades and no ties to a geographic location and no compelling differentiated story to tell about why you want to be there (and don't assume you can make a convincing one up, you probably can't), don't bother unless you are so committed to that place that you are willing to get shut out.

If you have excellent grades (LR grade on or close), apply wherever you want even if you have no geographic ties or a decent story to tell.

In between (3.4-3.6), it's a tougher call - probably best to take a few shots but also apply to other places where you do have those geographic ties.

Also, grade histories were worthless last year - firms significantly increased their ranges (as they should have) b/c they knew that they could do better than in the past. Many firms with a historical 3.3 average GPA were dinging people with a 3.6.

Anonymous said...

If you have excellent grades (LR grade on or close), apply wherever you want even if you have no geographic ties or a decent story to tell.

Ha! You must not have been one of those people, then, because this is terrible advice. Very good grades help, they make the other stuff matter less, but if you don't have at least a decent story (even NY/DC), it's not enough. At least not for c/o 11.

Anonymous said...

I used to think the preselect thing was a positive for UVA, but I am now convinced that most students would be better off if UVA went to a strict lottery only OGI. I understand the some employer might not like that, and some might not come to UVA at all in protest, but I think students are seriously being hurt by it. Here's why:

Under the current system, LR applicants are going to be preselected by most of the firms they apply to. Many LR applicants last year took the max of 30 OGI's and many received 20+ callbacks and took them all. I don't blame them for a second for this and think their hard work in their first year earned them the right to have great job prospects. However, this is hurting the overall number of students that UVA is placing in law firms through OGIs. Out of the 20 callbacks that LR applicants accept, they are only going to accept an offer from one of them.

Firms often come into OGIs with a quota of how many UVA students they want to extend callbacks and eventually offers to. Suppose a firm comes and interviews 20 students, and like last year, 10 of those interviews are preselected candidates. Suppose further that they are going to give 8 callbacks. Chances are that those 8 callbacks are going to go to the preselected candidates and chances are that those preselected callbacks are all LR students. So you end up with the same 25-35 students getting all the callbacks, yet they are all only going to pick one firm.

Now some firms may do a second round of callbacks to fill their UVA hire quota after they see that their offer from the LR applicant was not accepted, but most will probably just give offers to applicants that they have already paid to callback and who just didn't make the offer cut the first time around. Those applicants are going to be the lower grade students from non-UVA Schools.

So the result is that with the preselect process, UVA has more employers come, more students getting callbacks (but all the callbacks go to the very top students), and likely more offers per applicant than other T-14 schools. But they do not have more students placed, because most of the offers are going to students who already have offers from somewhere else.

I think UVA should go strictly lottery, with students being able to do special requests for five firms that they did not land interviews with. That way a student who has really good grades (but not LR) and is completely capable of being a great asset to a firm is not competing against 10-12 LR students for 8 callback spots. These great students who also worked hard compete against 3-4 LR students max and are much more likely to get callbacks, offers, and are much more likely to accept those offers because they won't have a huge amount of offers like LR applicants do under the current system.

The special request system allows a little bit of pre-select if there is mutual interest between the applicant and the law firm, but not enough to distort the number of callbacks and offers available to great applicants that are just below LR-level grades.

Sorry about the long post.

Anonymous said...

6:23 -- Interesting idea. I would be interested to see if data bear this out, though. Presumably, CSO has the data and could make an educated determination of what the best process is; of course, it's possible that they do not have the data or that they lack the incentive or sense to make this sort of decision. Because they have tweaked the lottery/preselect process in each of the past two years, I'm inclined to think they are at least thinking through their process, which is a good thing. So why haven't they adopted your process?

Because it's possible your process is not the optimal one. First of all, it's demonstrably false that LR people monopolize interview slots (25 grade-ons X 30 MAX [many take less, and they're scattered among all markets, not just top] < 750, which is much, much less than 10 X employer-rooms). (And firms are smart -- they will straight-up reject LR applicants if the firm is one where past GPAs have not been in that neighborhood, or if the person is otherwise unlikely to accept an offer. I know for a fact this happened.)

Also not true that preselects get all the offers and call-backs (every single interview thread has people talking about their offers from alternate/lottery OGIs).

Now let's say we did adopt your process. Let's say Williams & Connolly shows up and their lottery picks are all in the 3.2-3.4 range. Now, yes, those people all go to a great school, and yes, grades aren't everything, but how happy would you be that you sent two partners down to waste 8 hours and then sort through to pick the top five special requests. I know it supposedly works like this at other schools -- I'm curious how this situation is avoided. Because it seems like this wastes everybody's time, and ultimately, the same dude gets the offer -- and if he doesn't, the process has really screwed him over because on pure merit he would've gotten the offer.

And, on the flip side, is the guy with the 3.15 with interviews at top-flight firms all of a sudden getting better offers? NO... He's just getting fancier rejection letters! (Now here's where people say, oh, CSO other places gives out good GPA info so people make accurate bids. Great, wonderful, except GPA info is now basically worthless because of summer class contraction.)

Anonymous said...

3:29 -
I was, in fact, one of those people. I interviewed in 2 very competitive markets with no ties to either one. Got 8 offers. I know a few others similarly situated.
- 1:15

Anonymous said...

7:45 - good points. The numbers I used were not necessarily meant to be representative, I just was trying to make the point that the current system hurts applicants with good grades that aren't necessarily at the top of the class, whether the top of the class is considered law review or top 10% or whatever that means.

I also understand that there are some that get callbacks from the lottery under the current system, but I am guessing that the statistics would suggest that a vast majority of the people receiving callbacks were preselects or had grades that were similar to the grades of preselects.

I do think it is true that some firms do not try to court the top of the class because they historically have only had success with the mid-level students. But in my mind that exacerbates the problems for students in the good but not great grades category, at least in a down year like 2011. They are hit doubly hard because they aren't getting preselects from the top firms where they normally would have gotten a callback had the firm not cut their summer class in half and they are not getting callbacks or even preselects from the firms that generally select applicants with the mid- to low-level grades because they have historically not had success with those. If preselects were eliminated, the firms that select top grades would have a limited pool of "top grades" to choose from. I think that the good but not LR good grade applicants have historically been in the top-grades pool (at or above average for Cravath). The preselect system does reward the LR students for their good grades, but only at the expense of a lot of other people who have worked really hard as well but just didn't quite make the law review level.

I think the problem you suggested regarding top firms not getting to interview the applicants they want can be solved in a few different ways. First, as I suggested, I think the special request system is something that should stick around. If top students express interest and top firms have a desire to talk to those students then they should be able to.

Another possible solution, that I would support but might be controversial, is to allow firms to set hard GPA limits for students that can request interviews. If they know they are not interested in applicants with sub-3.50 grades, they can prevent the applicant from listing their firm on their list of firms applying to. I think there would have to be some rules about this, so every firm does not put a 3.50 limit (maybe they would have to show CSO that they historically have not hired below that level). Also, a special request system would allow those students with a compelling story to try to get the firm to interview them outside the lottery system.

I am glad that CSO is thinking about the issue. I know that several firms were unhappy about the change to a 50/50 system last years (which I think is the worst of both worlds, and really hurt UVA's OGI's last year). Maybe a lot of the problems would be eliminated by going to a total preselect system.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the rare (not so rare?) occurrence of people landing jobs via lottery interviews and special requests ITE, isn't it true that most firms have a hard limit on the GPA range they'll hire from. Some of these firms (Covington and W&C in particular) are hiring almost EXCLUSIVELY LR and top 10% people. I find it hard to imagine that only the top firms have hard limits in terms of GPA beyond which they simply won't consider UVA grads for an offer.

Anonymous said...

As a person on LR with a 3.7+, I can attest that lower ranked firms do not always preselect the best students.

I bid on about 40-45 firms, and was not preselected at ~15 firms. Almost all of the firms that did not preselect me were less selective firms. Only one or two top firms did not preselect me.

Anonymous said...

I am comfortably in the top 1% of my class. I applied to 45 firms but was only pre-selected for interviews with 44. Thus, it is clearly to me that the system is flawed and must be rectified post-haste! Cheerio!

Anonymous said...

I go to Yale Law School. Suck it hoos.

Anonymous said...

The lottery vs. pre-select system will always be a debate. It's pretty clear that with pre-select, students at the top of the class are, in almost any formulation, going to reap benefits. If enough firms come to OGI to balance out the top-heavy nature, then it might be better this way than by lottery.

It's interesting how different UVA's interview process is than, say, Berkeley. The hippies have no grades and no preselectionn... hard to say what system is better. I think I'd rather be a top 20% student at UVA than at Boalt, but a median student at Boalt than at UVA.

Anonymous said...

10:20, the point isn't that people who graded on to Law Review don't get enough interviews, it's that a decent number firms that aren't as selective ding Law Review grade-ons.

Anonymous said...

1:44 - I think the point is that no one feels bad for the poor LR applicants that can't get jobs at mid-tier firms because their grades are too high.

Anonymous said...

I think the % of lottery vs. pre-select argument misses the broader point, which is that students are not receiving critical information: meaningful GPA guidance.

It is stunning to me that Career Services does not provide GPA guidance and that more firms do not provide GPA cut-offs or ranges (if they use them).

The interests of students, firms, and career services should all be aligned in making sure that interview spots are not allocated to students who have no chance of getting a callback or offer.

I think that lottery interviews would be a lot more worthwhile from both the employer & student perspectives if (for the most part) the students in those interviews fit the GPA qualifications of the firm in question. If that were the case, then you could have a very high % of lottery slots and a low % of pre-selects, because firms would know that the lottery is providing them with a) students that firm wants and b) students that want that firm.

Unfortunately, absent meaningful GPA guidance, what happens in the lottery is that firms get only 'b' and not necessarily 'a' -- and this is why firms want the preselect. Preselect has its drawbacks too - in that firms get 'a' but not necessarily 'b' - but when forced to choose, firms will take 'a' over 'b' every day.

As such, if the lottery bidding were done with more guidance to students, and then students actually followed that guidance (for the most part - everyone should be allowed 'stretch' and 'safety' interviews if that is what they decide they want to do), the lottery vs. preselect debate would lose a lot of its relevance.

Anonymous said...

9:20 - they give you all the info you need (possibly, however, less than you want) in one on one meetings. They make it extremely clear that they will try to help you choose firms within reasonable bounds based on your credentials.

Still, your point is somewhat valid because they monopolize that information. Which means students A) have to be proactive or risk screwing the pooch and B) they retain a lot of discretion and control.

Anonymous said...

9:39-
Requiring the one-on-one meetings is inefficient - information should be disseminated efficiently to all and those who want one-on-one meetings can then avail themselves of that, while those who don't shouldn't be penalized for it (or, per the below, those who do go to one-on-one meetings shouldn't be indirectly penalized by their peers who don't go to the one-on-one meetings and thus make poor lottery selections).

The cost of the inefficiency is this: 1. not all students avail themselves of one-on-one meetings, so 2. not all students have the information they need to bid intelligently, so 3. a significant percentage of lottery interviews are a waste of time for employers, so 4. employers push on career services to reduce the number of lottery slots in favor of more preselect slots.

Anonymous said...

9:48 makes sense. But if you take career services at their word, the abundance of pre-select slots and the fact that employers like the data withheld means we get more employers, which could counter act any damage done by uninformed bidding. Maybe.

It's definitely uncomfortable to have Career services making these decisions and shepherding us through such an important phase, but I don't know that we'll ever have enough data to 'know best' - which I believe is true regardless of whether or not they're doing a good job as it stands.

Anonymous said...

9:48 - Law Firms don't want that information public. I think there are a variety of valid reasons why that is the case. Many have different GPA cutoffs for different schools, some don't want other firms knowing what their GPA cutoffs are for whatever reason. I just don't think the firms are going to buy into a completely open system. The one-on-one meeting thing is not a big deal. Anyone who is not meeting with Career Services before OGI's is not taking OGI's seriously. The problem in the past (from personal experience) was that some of the information from CSO wasn't always completely accurate or useful. With KD in charge, things have gotten a lot better. I'm guessing the class of 2012 will have a lot more success than the class of 2011 did.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like career services 1 on 1s will be a lot more useful this year than they were for the class of 2011. I met last spring wiht career services and teh information they gave me was useless and completely off base. Thank goodness I didn't listen to all of it (thoguh I was hurt by listening to some of it)...