A program of the Bar Association of San Francisco and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, this year’s 16th Annual Bay Area Diversity Career Fair was unlike those held in prior years. Traditionally the fair is an in-person, day-and-a-half long event featuring an evening panel focused on diversity in the profession followed by a full day of interviews for highly-qualified, diverse second-year law students. This year, the event was moved online, and leveraged technology to reach a record 730 students from across the country.
Given the onset of COVID-19 and the enormous changes in law school academic schedules, the shift to move on-campus interviews to early in the Spring semester necessitated a shift in the fair’s schedule. Instead of a July event, the fair was held January 8 and 9, 2021 – giving prominent law firms and government legal departments in the San Francisco Bay Area a chance to scout top talent for summer positions sooner. And while the number of firms participating this year dropped slightly from 63 to 50, fair organizers anticipate the switch to a virtual model will be a new norm that all firms, agencies and companies will grow more accustomed to.
The question whether to hold the fair online rather than in-person is settled for the moment; however, the questions of the best time during the academic year to hold the fair and in which time zone still need discussion. For Bay Area students, the earlier time worked well, but coordinating across time zones now creates a concern as to whether students in the East, South and Mid-West should be prepared to participate in interviews later in the evening, or whether running multiple simultaneous fairs makes sense.
Regardless, not having to fly across the country or find lodging in the Bay Area definitely opens the door for more diverse students to participate in the interview process. Employers who participated in this year’s fair also appreciated the ease of an online fair. They could review resumes and log onto a virtual platform to conduct interviews without having to ship or transport files to a hotel in preparation for interview day. Though virtual, the students participating in the fair were required to dress in professional business attire and replicate the experience of positive first impressions.
While there is still uncertainty around the pandemic, the fair organizers viewed this year’s event as a success, and even in an online environment, the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair continues to be a great way for employers to meet and build a pipeline for dynamic and diverse candidates.
To learn more about the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, and to get involved, contact Samantha Akwei at email@example.com.
About the Author:
Samantha Akwei is the Directory of Diversity Pipeline Programs and runs the K-12, Undergraduate, Law School and Diversity Educational Programs.