The Big Law career guide for law school students and young lawyers looking to land a job at an elite firms

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The Big Law career guide for law school students and young lawyers looking to land a job at an elite firms
While interviews for law firms' summer associate programs are taking place virtually this year, recruiters and hiring partners say there are ways to establish meaningful connections and impress interviewers.Getty Images
  • Each year, law school students interview for coveted summer associate jobs at Big law firms.
  • Hiring partners and recruiting chairs shared their tips for impressing interviewers.
  • They also shared hot practice areas, including data privacy and healthcare.

2020 was a rollercoaster year for law school students and graduates, but 2021 is getting back on track.

At the start of the pandemic, on-campus interviews (OCI) for law firms' summer associate programs - the primary pipeline for new talent at firms - were pushed back to later in the academic year, with January 2021 as the peak time for virtual interviews.

This year, firms are returning to their usual schedule of summer interviews, looking for fresh talent to help keep up with a record number of deals in the past year.

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Insider has spoken to hiring partners and recruiters across the industry to collect the best tips for landing summer job at a Big Law firm.

Big Law summer associate recruiting:

Recruiting chairs and hiring partners at some of the most prestigious Big Law firms, including Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins, shared what they're looking for in an ideal candidate, from strong communication skills to an ability to work as a team player. They also discussed what students should know about their firm to demonstrate genuine interest, and share their top tips on impressing interviewers in a virtual setting.

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Hot practice areas in law:

While law students aren't expected to know what type of law they want to specialize in off the bat, a demonstrated interest in a particular area can help set them apart during interviews. Attorneys and recruiters shared advice on what practice areas are especially in demand, which can give students interested in those areas a leg up.

Bankruptcy, data privacy, and healthcare are among those in highest demand, especially with the sea changes caused by the pandemic. Tech is another buzzy area with a ton of demand, according to a recruiter.

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Staying on top of your game:

Amid uncertainty and setbacks, industry experts recommended the best ways to keep legal skills sharp, from engaging in pro bono work to reading up on various aspects of the ever-evolving legal field.

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