How I Got My Job through OCI: Barry Stratford (SJQ 2012), Summer Associate with Perkins Coie, LLP, Phoenix and Kass Wallin (SJQ 2012), Summer Associate with Alverson Taylor in Las Vegas

In this and the next few issues of the Career Brief, PDO features stories from SJQ students and alums who got jobs during fall recruiting—both through on-campus interviews (OCI) and through avenues outside of OCI.  This week’s article features Barry Stratford, summer associate at Perkins Coie in Phoenix and Kass Wallin, summer associate at Alverson, Taylor, Mortenson & Sanders in Las Vegas.



Barry Stratford

1.  What are you doing/for whom do you work? I am a Summer Associate at the Phoenix office of Perkins Coie, LLP. During my time as a Summer Associate, I have worked on a variety of topics including: writing research memorandums about the liability of a corporation in a toxic tort case, a mining company’s boundary dispute with an Indian Tribe, various products liability and patent litigation issues, scope of the attorney-client privilege, a variety of political law issues, a corporations liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and matters relating to a white collar criminal investigation. I also helped write an emergency motion to decertify a class, read in a deposition for a case at trial, and attended court to witness oral arguments in appellate cases, motions for summary judgment, and motions to remove counsel.

2.  What was the application process like and what was the interview like? The application process was done through OCI and is relatively painless. You work up some documents and upload them to symplicity. The initial interview on campus with Perkins Coie turned out great. Interviews are quick twenty minute get-to-know-you sessions. I immediately clicked with my interviewer and really enjoyed her outlook on big law and the life-work balance. The follow up interview in Phoenix was even better. I spent the day at the firm getting to know a variety of associates and partners in every different practice area. The whole experience is like an all day speed date. You’ll meet a lot of people and it’s rather exhausting, but really leaves you with a sense of the firm. You’ll figure out pretty quickly whether the attorneys like their job and whether you want to work there.

3.  What do you think helped you in terms of their decision to hire you? Once you’ve landed an interview with a firm or other organization, you’ve done most of the work. There’s no way around it: grades and experience are what get you into the door. But at that point, it really boils down to personality. The interviewers are trying to figure out if they want to work with you. You should be figuring out whether you want to work with them too. Are you a good fit in terms of personality and expectations with the organization? If you cringe at the idea of having to pull an all-nighter with your interviewer, then you really ought to reconsider whether you would want to work for that organization.

4.  What advice do you have for those who are going through the OCI process now?  About law school in general? Remember to be yourself and to have fun! OCI, and law school, is both physically and emotionally exhausting. You’re going to be stressed and may fall behind in your studies. You’ll memorize a lot of names, meet a ton of people, and get a real sense of what you are looking for from a firm or other organization. Each has a different culture and you shouldn’t pretend to fit in somewhere you can’t see yourself a few years down the road. You won’t be happy. They won’t be happy. Yes, OCI can be painful. That being said, it’s totally worth it. You meet a ton of people in the community and get a real sense of what practicing law actually is. As for me, I would go through the process 10 times over in order to work with the attorneys at Perkins Coie, work with the clients they represent, and work on the types of cases and issues that they do.


Kass Wallin


1.  What are you doing/for whom do you work?  I’m working at a private law firm in Las Vegas called Alverson, Taylor, Mortenson, and Sanders. My group focuses a lot on insurance defense.

2.  What was the application process like and what was the interview like? I interviewed through OCI. Eric Taylor, the firm’s hiring partner, came to the school for initial interviews and then did callback interviews a few weeks later at the law school (kind of different than the other firms who did call-back interviews at their office). He called with offers sometime in late October, if I remember correctly.

3.  What do you think helped you in terms of their decision to hire you? I think an important factor in their decision to hire me was that I really showed interest in their firm and interest in the Las Vegas area. After my callback interview, but before he extended an offer, I went down to the office in Vegas and met some of the staff and attorneys. I’m sure they conveyed this to the hiring partner, who called with an offer just a short time later.

4.  What advice do you have for those who are going through the OCI process now?  About law school in general?  Interviewing is very subjective. Don’t be discouraged if you think you should have gotten an offer that went to someone else. If you keep a good attitude about the interviewing, things can work out.