Ultra Vires


Additional Supports Offered During the Virtual Recruit

Staff and students stepped up to offer additional support to 2Ls during the difficult virtual recruit this year

The annual 2L Toronto recruit occurred against the backdrop of an already isolating and stressful year. Despite the challenges, there were a series of new initiatives at the Faculty to support students before, during, and after OCIs and in-firms. Below, we shine a light on the additional supports, most of them student-led, and the motivations behind them.

Career Development Office (CDO) Temporarily Hired Anne-Marie Sorrenti

The simultaneous 1L and 2L recruits in the Winter semester created more demand for CDO services while also requiring more time spent coordinating the OCI recruiting program. In response to the anticipated strain, the CDO brought on Anne-Marie Sorrenti to review application materials and conduct mock interviews with students. Sorrenti is a coach and former corporate lawyer who works with professionals, executives, and executive teams to increase performance and engagement levels. In the past, Sorrenti has conducted student Emotional Intelligence counselling sessions at the Faculty.

Neil Dennis, the Director of the CDO, said “She was a welcome addition — without her, the CDO would have struggled to meet the added challenges that this year brought.”

Due to the virtual nature of the recruit, the CDO team was unable to cheer students on in-person during OCIs and students were unable to sit in their office during the black-out period. Dennis comments, “This was one of the experiences we missed the most this year as we have such a strong connection to our students. It’s one of the best parts of the job.”

In response, the CDO increased their accessibility. Emails were answered more quickly. In broadly defined emergency situations, the CDO made efforts to talk outside of their normal business hours. “The main idea was not to leave anyone feeling like they were alone in this process,” said Dennis.

“Our passion for this work and our students drives us to persevere,” added Dennis. “We want our students to succeed and feel supported, so whatever decisions we make, our guiding principle is always whether it is in the best interests of our students.”

Students’ Law Society (SLS) Introduced the Upper-Year Recruit Buddy Program

The SLS matched 2L students participating in a recruit with a “recruit buddy,” a 3L who could provide guidance and support throughout the process. Emma Brown (3L), Rachael Girolametto-Prosen (3L), and Zarin Zahra (3L) worked closely to organize the program. “I was informally mentoring a few 2Ls and it made me think back to the stress of recruiting and how the 2Ls have it even harder this year,” said Girolametto-Prosen. “I relied heavily on upper years that I met in the hallways of Jackman [Hall] and 2Ls this year didn’t have that option.”

The program aimed to provide students with a confidant throughout recruitment — someone the 2Ls could rely on for questions and support. “OCIs and in-firms are difficult to understand until you go through them, particularly the stress of in-firm strategy and “first-choice” language,” added Girolametto-Prosen.

About 65 2Ls and 40 3Ls participated in the program. For future iterations, SLS Social hopes to include questions on specific equity and contextual factors on the matching form and start the program earlier so it covers the application stage as well.

“My upper year buddy mimicked the actual interview process in his mock interviews with me,” said Will Hu (2L). “He pushed me beyond my comfort zone in a beneficial way; the program was extremely valuable in helping me navigate the virtual recruit.” 

Asia Law Society (ALS) Hosted Mock OCI and Mock In-Firm Events

ALS hosted mock interview events in February to help prepare students for the virtual interviewing process. Students had the opportunity to practice hopping between multiple Zoom links and answering similar questions multiple times in 90 minutes. The events were open to all students.

“I attended a similar, albeit in-person, mock OCI event last year and found it really helpful,” said Andrew Gong (3L), one of the main organizers behind the events. “I was hoping to replicate that experience virtually and […] to give back to the community.”

ALS crowdsourced a list of challenging interview questions. “Although the questions may not show up in the actual interview, students receive practice answering unexpected questions,” said Gong. “It may help adapt resume experiences to convey different stories, and [students] may be better prepared to answer a far wider range of questions as a result.”

Maija Fiorante (2L) recalled, “Doing mock interviews with ALS was an invaluable part of my preparation for the recruit. The feedback I received from [upper-year] interviewers was thoughtful and thorough, and helped me understand where I needed to improve.”

ALS facilitated over 200 interviews. “Our volunteers played a vital role in ensuring the event’s success,” added Gong. “The event would not have been possible but for the generosity of upper-year students who volunteered their Saturday afternoons to interview 2Ls.” 

3L Students Hosted a Post-Offer Day Call

A group of six 3L students, led by Carol Liu (3L) and Kristy Milland (3L), hosted a Zoom call on the evening of Offer Day for 2L students who struck out during the recruit. The call was a space for students who felt like they could use the company of empathetic, non-judgemental listeners who have been in similar situations.

“As 2Ls, both Kristy and I participated in in-firm week and struck out during the recruit,” recalled Liu. “We know first-hand how difficult it is to be in that position and feeling utterly lost.” Liu and Milland expressed concern for the 2L students who may exit the process empty-handed, exhausted, and disappointed, on top of the additional burdens brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A handful of 2Ls joined the Zoom meeting. Later that evening and over the weekend, Liu and Milland both received messages from 2Ls who wished to ask job-related questions in private. “Whether as a coordinated group effort on the eve of, or later in one-on-one messages, I hope [we were] able to make a positive difference through those conversations,” reflected Liu.

3L Students Organized a Post-Recruit Panel

Hannah Johnson (3L) spearheaded a panel event on the Monday after Offer Day that provided information on post-recruit employment opportunities. The CDO usually organizes a similar event, but decided against doing so this year given the tight recruit timeline. Johnson took the opposite view: there would be a lot of value in an event precisely because summer was rapidly approaching.

“The priority of the event was to provide information about how to find a 2L job,” said Johnson. “Not getting a job in the recruit can be painful and embarrassing, [but] we wanted to [highlight] concrete next steps to take to secure employment.” The panelists discussed full-service Bay Street firms, clerkship opportunities, and getting hired by a first-choice employer who rejected them in 2L.

“We also wanted to identify ourselves as further resources and to connect the 2Ls with each other,” added Johnson. “I benefited greatly from knowing that people who I knew were brilliant and successful were in the same position as me.”

19 students attended the event. Afterwards, each panelist had multiple students reach out for further information. “Given that one of the goals was to connect students with additional resources, this is a very positive outcome,” concluded Johnson.

Editor’s Note: Annecy Pang is a co-president of Asia Law Society. She also participated in the Toronto 2L Recruit this year. 

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