Skip to Main Content
by Vault Law Editors | March 17, 2023


Bidding for on-campus interviews can be overwhelming. If you aren’t starting out with a lot of familiarity with the legal industry, firms will probably seem very similar to each other at first glance when you start trying to make choices. Given the impact it can have on your career trajectory, the pressure to select the “right” firm feels tremendous. Below are some tips for narrowing your list of law firms so you can breeze into recruiting season.

Narrow your focus and priorities.

The first step in narrowing the list is some genuine self-reflection to pinpoint your career goals and priorities. Ignore the noise around you—don’t, for instance, bid based on prestige just to try and impress your peers. Factors to consider include, without being limited to, reputation and prestige, available practice areas, available locations, the remote work/flexibility policy, compensation(and pay attention to hours requirements for bonus eligibility!), DEI initiatives, pro bono policy, the summer program, training and mentoring, and career outlook to name a few. (Vault’s profiles survey associates on all of these factors and more!)

Target your research once you’ve identified your top priorities.

For instance, if you know you want to work in a specific practice area, it’s easy to narrow your search to firms that are known for that practice area and/or specialize in it. You can review the cases they’ve handled (Vault’s profile offer firms the opportunity to highlight their most notable recent matters). You can look into the most notable partners heading those practice groups. On the other side of that coin, if you are unsure what type of work appeals to you, it might be best to focus your search on firms that allow summers and/or first-years to rotate through a variety of practice areas before committing to a specific one. If full-time office work is a deal breaker, you can only look at firms with hybrid or remote policies in place. You get the idea.

Research from a variety of sources.

Although you should strive to narrow your research factors, you should be broad when it comes to research sources. We, naturally, will plug the Vault Law resources here, but you should not only look at a Vault profile (no matter how great a start it is). You should pay attention to rankings from both us and our competitors, and note where there is agreement and where there is disparity. You should also look to see how firms are trending and where they have been in older iterations of the rankings. You should also speak with a variety of people—your peers, attorneys you know, professors, recruiters, and career services staff will all have unique and valuable perspectives on this process.

Your peers are a resource.

It is very likely that at least some of your fellow students in higher class years have previously summered at your target firms. They can give you an insider’s perspective on what it was actually like to summer there, as well as tips on how they succeeded at getting a slot in the programs. You may be most comfortable talking to your peers, and they are most likely to be candid of virtually anyone you might speak with.

Use Career Services.

Don’t underestimate the knowledge your career counselor brings to the table. Many have been in the industry for years, as attorneys, recruiters, or both. They can assist you in creating your bid list if you candidly discuss your priorities with them. They may have insider information on working at a particular firm. And perhaps most importantly, they can leverage their connections to put you in contact with alumni who work at your target firms. Nothing is more valuable than networking at this and, frankly, all stages of your career.

Best of luck with the bid process!

* * *

For the original version of this post, credit to Mary Kate Sheridan, see here.