Add Diversity Job Fairs to Your Bag of Tricks

Job Search Checklist

You made it through your first year of law school and you’re still alive.  Congrats!  But not so fast, because you know it’s time to start looking for a job.  For the past couple of months, you’ve been hearing such terms as “OCI” and “call backs.”  Those terms will come to mean a lot to you over this summer.  Add on more term to that list:  diversity job fairs.  On Campus Interviews (OCIs) are one of many ways for you to seek summer employment for your 2L year.  However, many of you will find you will have more options, and have more success at diversity job fairs.  There are a few reasons to add diversity job fairs to your list of recruiting must-dos.

You Get Greater Exposure.  

Attending a Diversity Job Fair is a great way to supplement your summer job search.  OCIs work in a variety of ways depending on your school’s recruiting policy.  There are generally a couple of ways employers interview students on campus; either the employer receives a list of students they can interview or the employers chose who they interview from a list of students who submit their application materials.  Either way, when employers come on campus, they have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of interview spots.  Therefore, the competition is a little bit stiffer, so some employers use diversity job fairs to gain access to students they may not get an opportunity to interview on campus.  That is not to say that employers will always leave minority candidates for the diversity job fairs, many strong minority candidates receive interviews at OCI.  Thus, participating in a diversity job fair gives you yet another opportunity to be seen by employers.  Another reason to attend a diversity job fair is because some employers may not recruit at your law school at all; the diversity fair gives them an opportunity to interview a wide range of law students. 

Practice, Practice, Practice.  

It has probably been a while since you interviewed for a job, and a legal one at that.  Interviewing is all about selling yourself but that doesn’t mean just regurgitating what is on your resume.  There’s an art to selling yourself in a subtle and tasteful way.  However, it may take you an interview or two (or three) to get a better understanding of what employers are looking for from you or how to present your package.  Based on the results, or feedback you receive, you will be able to adjust.  Another reason to attend diversity fairs is to get more practice in learning to “feel” your way through the sea of law firms and other legal employers.  Every law firm’s website stresses a commitment to diversity and pro bono, but the more you talk to attorneys in a recruiting setting, the better you will be able to read between the lines and make informed decisions about your future employment.

They Work! 

There is a common misconception that diversity job fairs are fruitless or that employers use it as a rubber stamp to appease minority law students.  I know from personal knowledge that this is not true.  Employers use diversity job fairs to meet candidates they may not otherwise have a chance to meet, either because of time restrictions or because of the overall credential restrictions they use during OCI.  It is true that the legal market is competitive; employers are hiring fewer students than they were five years ago.   So, diversity jobs fairs afford you the chance to take another crack at getting in front of a legal employer to obtain that awesome summer job for your 2L summer.

Check out our list of Diversity Job Fairs prepared last year.  Make sure to visit their websites and register on time.  Please note that a number of  registration deadlines occur in late Spring and early Summer.  

Good luck with your job search!

Editor’s Note: The views expressed herein are the author’s own and not the views of any current or any former employers.


Art Steele is a member of the Blueprint JD Board of Directors. Born and raised in Monrovia, Liberia, her family migrated to Reston, Virginia during the Liberian Civil War. Art received her Bachelor of Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Juris Doctor from American University Washington College of Law. While at the Washington College of Law, she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and an active member of her Black Law Student Association (BLSA) chapter.  Art is a Senior Analyst for Global Tax Planning at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, MD.  Prior to joining Discovery, Art was a tax associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, in Washington, D.C.