Orrick Summer Associates ‘Hack’ Recruiting Process

Most Big Law firms spend their summers wooing law students with lunches, parties, and other firm outings. This year, Orrick tried something different: a hackathon.

On July 17, the firm gathered all of its summer associates in Silicon Valley and New York and asked them to brainstorm ways to ease legal education and summer recruiting.

Six teams of summer associates spent the day coming up with proposals to ease the transition from law school to Big Law.

The winning idea, an online repository of firm data, aims to streamline the summer recruiting process, which many students find overly stressful and rushed.

“It’s kind of like Yelp and Match.com meets law firms,” said Siobhan Handley, Orrick’s chief talent officer. Handley said the firm plans to develop a prototype of the platform, which will primarily be used as an app.

“It wouldn’t subvert” on-campus interviews, “but maybe you could bid for firms where you feel like there’s a better match for you, rather than doing what associates have to do now, which is jump on the websites of 25 or 50 firms,” said Handley. “There’s no streamlined way for them to say, this is what I’m looking for.”

Alex Lilly, a summer associate in Orrick’s New York office, compared the recruiting process to “driving blind down a highway.” Lilly, a rising 3L at Case Western Reserve Law School, was a member of the team that developed the idea for the new platform.

“You haves so little time, you have just finished your first year of law school, you know nothing, you have no professional law experience, you barely know anything about the law. It’s very difficult.”

Lilly hopes that, with enough buy-in from other firms, the platform will grow to include information like which practice groups a firm is looking to expand, whether a firm has advancement opportunities for women, and what its partner to associate ratio is.

“If I were running a firm, I wouldn’t want to spend money on students that, if they knew we weren’t hiring in a particular practice area, wouldn’t want the job,” Lilly said.

The hackathon wasn’t designed to develop ideas, but rather to encourage summer associates to think creatively about the legal industry, Handley said.

Orrick plans to roll out similar events for its junior and senior associates in the near future, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com