A Q&A with Alexandra Paslawsky, Director of Legal Recruiting at Milbank LLP
What advice would you give a law student interviewing for a summer associate position?
Preparation is key. Law students should learn about the firms they’re meeting with – the work they do, the latest cases and transactions, their key practice areas. A lot of this information can be found on a firm’s website or in news articles. It’s relatively easy, a firm’s website features most of this information. They can also attend events and receptions held by the firms they’re interested in. Interviewees will be able to meet the lawyers and the recruiting team, which is a great way to learn about what the firm values. It can also be beneficial to speak with friends and colleagues who have been interviewing; their insights about the process can be invaluable. During the interview, they should be ready to speak about some challenging legal issues that they find interesting. The goal is to be professional but not too formal, prepared but not robotic. Also, reviewing your resume is important to make sure it accurately reflects your experience—and check for typos.
How do pre-OCI activities affect the process?
Pre-OCI activities have become more prevalent in recent years, and firms are trying to adapt to the changing landscape. The increase in pre-OCI can be advantageous for law students because it allows students to have more control in the process. By participating in pre-OCI, students can network with attorneys and legal recruiting personnel and learn more about the firms they’re interested in. This allows students to get an earlier start in the process and possibly get earlier decisions. Working at your own pace can go a long way in alleviating some of the anxiety.
Can you offer any guidance on how law students can best approach their summer program?
It’s so important to come into a summer position with eagerness and an open mind. It’s an exciting time – and the perfect time to learn and ask questions. There are several important skills that a summer associate will work on during the program, like research, writing, and formulating arguments, and it’s easy to fall into the law school mentality of thinking 10 steps ahead. Yet it’s also crucial to “be present.” That is, be an active participant in this unique experience and take it all in. Staying engaged and being curious are important aspects of putting one’s best foot forward and making a great initial impression with the lawyers and colleagues you’ll be working with – people will remember that.
Why should a law student choose Milbank’s summer program?
Our summer program is a microcosm of life at Milbank. Professional development is a key aspect, just as it is for our regular associates. Summers rotate through three practice areas, participating on client calls and meeting, drafting documents and researching critical issues. There also are opportunities to meet lawyers in practice groups that summers are not rotating through and to inquire about other types of work that may be of interest. The real-world experience is supplemented with in-depth trainings, informative lunch-and-learns, insightful guest speakers and meaningful mentor relationships. Our social events are similarly engaging and geared toward building important connections. The firm’s affinity groups also are involved, focusing on fostering connections for minority, LGBTQ+ and other diverse lawyers. The goal for our summers should be to meet as many people as possible and be exposed to everything Milbank has to offer. After the 10 weeks, they will have sharpened their skills, met new friends, expanded their network, and created some wonderful memories.