Five Things to Get Out of Your 1L Summer Experience
Five Things to Get Out of Your 1L Summer Experience: Whether you are working at a firm, in-house, or courthouse this summer, all 1L students should be thinking about maximizing their potential and getting the most out of their 1L summer experience.
Below is a list of five things law students should consider before starting their 1L job. If you can accomplish all five this summer, then you have had a successful 1L summer experience!
1. Get more experience!
As a 1L, all the relevant legal knowledge you have to offer is one year of basic law classes. Obviously, you start off at a disadvantage compared to 2Ls and 3Ls. Your employer knows this, because they hired you, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to catch up!
One of the first goals for your summer should be to get more experience so you can go to either that same employer or a different employer in the future and tell them everything you learned. Keep track of all your projects, including what topic each was on, so you can reference that list later. It is easy to forget about a memo you wrote the first week. However, that memo could be important to put on your resume and/or to tell potential employers about.
Ideally, try to get as much experience in any area of law that interests you. This will allow you to learn more about this field and see if it is really what you enjoy. It also gives you specific experience to bring up to future employers looking for someone with knowledge of that area of law.
2. Get a writing sample.
1Ls want to walk away from their summer experience with a writing sample to use for applications and job interviews. Many job applications require a writing sample. Some employers will be grateful to have one because it will put your work ahead of your competitors.
Usually, there are confidentiality issues with using anything you create in the office for personal use. But, if you are upfront with your employer, they may be able to work something out, such as creating a redacted version of your work.
3. Get a letter of recommendation.
Even if you hope to work at the same place during the school year or the following summer, it is always beneficial to get a letter of recommendation from employers before you leave the office. That way, they can write about your experiences and skills when they are fresh in their minds.
Some employers require a letter of recommendation to apply for a job, but others may still find it useful when applying for a position.
4. Build connections.
The field of law can be a lot about who you know. This summer, you will likely meet a lot of attorneys, all of which can be beneficial connections! Get to know as many as you can and get their contact information. It is helpful to make a spreadsheet of all your connections. Later, you can refer to this list when in need of advice, a letter of recommendation, or even a job!
5. Is this want I want to do?
Finally, you should be able to answer the question, “is this what I want to do?” by the end of your 1L summer job.
This question can apply to the area of law you work in. Even if you were working in a field you already love, your summer should then reaffirm those feelings and let you know you’re on the right path. However, if you are skeptical about the area of law you will be working in this summer, use your experiences to either affirm your suspicions or decide this is an area you want to pursue further. With a law degree, there is no need to make a final decision on what area of law you want to work in. However, having an idea of some of the things that interest you is helpful for job searching in the future. It can also help you pick out 2L and 3L classes.
This question can also apply to the particular place, or type of place, you are working. Some 1L jobs do not come with an option to continue working there during the school year or the following summer. Even if this is not an option, you should not treat your job any differently. However, if there is an option to work there for an extended period of time, make sure to get an idea of what you do and do not like about the job and the place itself. This will help you decide if this is your dream job, or if you need to start sending out your resume.
In questioning the type of place you work at, your insights on one place can vary from firm to firm or courthouse to courthouse. But, you can still try to get a sense of what you do and do not like about the environment, people, work ethic, work load, etc. For example, if you are working at a big firm over the summer, you may find out that you enjoy the lifestyle and atmosphere of working in a big firm. Or, you may decide that the big firm life is not for you.
No matter how you answer this question, your summer experience should give you some clues about what you like and don’t like about practicing law.
Overall, your 1L summer experience will be a great experience regardless of what you do. However, utilizing these tips can ensure you get the most out of it.
Watch out for more tips and strategies from JD Advising on legal writing, research, and editing; resume and interviewing tips; working for a firm; and, starting a law firm.