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EIW 2012 

Employers, students get together for Early Interview Week

By John Masson
Aug. 22, 2012

If it's a little lonely this week at South Hall's Office of Career Planning (OCP), it's only because many of the staff have temporarily decamped to a nearby hotel to help students navigate Michigan Law's Early Interview Week (EIW).

The annual jobs gathering, which this year features representatives of almost 500 top legal employers from around the country—up from 430 last year—helps rising 2Ls and 3Ls find the best fit as they map out their careers.

This year, the interviews of about 400 participating students got under way Aug. 21. By the time the last chat is completed on Aug. 24, more than 5,300 interviews will have been conducted at Ann Arbor's northside Holiday Inn, where the event is being held.

The interviews themselves are the culmination of nearly six months of planning, led by Law School Recruitment Manager Kim LeClair.

"It's quite a bit of work, but I absolutely love it," said LeClair, who joined the Law School from the School of Natural Resources and Environment in March. "The students are just great, and the employers have been great, as well."

Planning for EIW actually began before LeClair arrived at the Law School, with employers starting to register in early March. OCP staffers in May and early June began arranging interviews and sending out information about individual employers to students. Then the students bid for their 30 allotted interview slots in early July, and the schedule is put together in early August.

Finally, the week before EIW, students take part, over three days, in mock interviews.

"I don't really know of any other profession that does this the way the law does," LeClair said. "It's a pretty unique beast."

Gary McGinnis, an Attorney-Counselor in OCP, understands what the students are feeling throughout the process. He went through the same thing while earning his JD at Virginia in 2007.

"I must say that, coming back five years later, I'm getting the same sense of optimism" that he felt among his classmates back then, McGinnis said. "I've been very impressed. The students are in good spirits, and the employers are here to hire."

Students were handling the stress of multiple interviews well, he added. A student lounge and employer hospitality suites, as well as OCP staffers nearby to answer any questions, likely helped.

Like other OCP staffers, McGinnis relishes the opportunity to guide law students as they chart their career courses. And this week, that guidance includes being on hand and ready to answer student questions, reach out to employers, and make sure both employers and students are comfortable and accommodated whenever possible.

Not all Michigan Law students take part in the annual Early Interview Week ritual, of course.

Among those who don't are some students pursuing public-interest careers, said Alyson Robbins, the Law School's Public Interest Director. Robbins will be connecting with them at a special gathering Wednesday evening.

Although, considering that it'll be held at Dominick's, it's likely to be slightly more relaxing.

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