Heather Asher

Interview with Munger Tolles Partner Tamerlin Godley on OCI Preparation

On June 20, 2016 Ms. JD and Munger Tolles & Olson hosted “Cutting to the Front of the Line: OCI Preparation” at the firm’s Los Angeles office.  This event featured a panel of attorneys experienced in law student recruiting discussing OCI advice, followed by a networking reception, one-on-one mock interviews and a presentation on strengthening online profiles during a job search.  Based on the positive response from participants, Ms. JD conducted a follow-up interview with event moderator Tamerlin “Tammy” Godley, a Litigation Partner at Munger Tolles.

What is the hiring process at Munger Tolles?

Munger interviews at about 20 law schools.  If the firm isn’t interviewing at your school or you have a lottery and don’t receive an interview slot, don’t hesitate to contact our recruiting office.  There are a number of entry points to working as an attorney at Munger.  We hire attorneys for the summer program, during the third year of law school and after a clerkship.  What these hires have in common is an outstanding resume and references.

What are the top three qualities you look for in an associate?

1) Initiative – you need to own your matters from day one, think like a partner and figure out how to serve the client.
2) Smarts– we get paid for our horsepower so it’s important that we have bright attorneys.
3) Commitment to firm and community – this includes service to the firm community and the outside community, whether local or nationally.

Are there any examples you can provide on how law students can highlight the qualities above in an interview?

At the OCI panel we told attendees that we’re looking for passionate people who can talk with authority and purpose.  You should draw attention to things you’ve lead or in which you’ve had more than a membership role.

What are the top three things to do to prepare for an interview?

1) Know your resume and be prepared to talk about everything on your resume.
2) Practice different answers and try to eliminate verbal tics.
3) Create good questions to ask at the interview.  It shouldn’t be just questions about the summer program, but more thoughtful questions about the firm and the interviewer’s reflections on their practice.

What are common mistakes law students make in interviews?

I don’t have any instant red flags, but mistakes I sometimes see are being bored, arrogant, not interested, unable to talk about your resume, super nervous or not having interesting questions.

Also, you shouldn’t be hesitant to talk about experiences outside the law such as flipping burgers or travel.  In fact, I would much rather talk about non-legal topics that tell me about your character and your passion!

In how much detail should you research a firm prior to an interview?

You should definitely know the basic details of the firm’s practice group areas.  You’re not going to be quizzed on this but it will be information you’ll need to know.  Also, figure out what sets the firm apart and what the firm prides itself on.  Use that information to show why the firm resonates with you and weave that into your answers.

For example, at Munger we have a really democratic culture, everything is done by consensus and voting of all attorneys, including new attorneys. Work is given out without regard to whether an associate is a 1st, 2nd or 3rd year associate.  This creates opportunity for early responsibility.  On the flip side senior associates don’t have junior associates to push work down to.  I believe this flat culture model works best, but it’s important for people interviewing at Munger to have a sense of whether they are interested in this culture.

For female law students, we’ve heard that some struggle with whether to take off their wedding rings to combat bias.  Do you have any advice on that issue?

If you feel like you need to take off your wedding ring to interview at a certain firm, then you shouldn’t work there.  You should strive to work somewhere that’s aligned with your ideals. At Munger, we’re supportive of outside commitments, whether its family commitments or community commitments. It’s something we take seriously.  This was important to me and so the firm culture fits with my own priorities.

Do you recommend that law students follow-up after an interview?

There is no need to do anything.  Everyone is too busy to notice whether you followed up.  You either had a good interview or you didn’t.  If you do follow-up, make sure that your message resonates with your interview conversation and remember that you don’t need to follow-up with everyone that interviewed you.  If you had more of a connection with a particular interviewer it’s ok to just follow-up with that person.

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