How To Find And Fund A 1L Summer Internship
Your 1L summer internship is a great opportunity to gain some practical legal skills, develop your professional network, and explore different areas of practice. We’ve discussed in a previous post about where you can work for your 1L summer, as well as how to get (or make your own) law school summer internship. Many of these internships are unpaid, so you will need to secure funding in order to cover your costs for the summer. In this post, we will go over three tips for finding and funding a 1L summer internships.
How To Find And Fund A 1L Summer Internship
1. Prepare yourself to apply.
Employers aren’t allowed to recruit 1Ls until December 1st, but you should start preparing yourself to apply before December 1st. This is particularly important if you are interested in a competitive position, such as with a well-known government agency or a prestigious nonprofit. These internships will receive hundreds of applications, so you want to be ready to go as soon as the application period opens!
Here is what you should get ready before December 1st.
Resume and cover letter
Now is a good time to update your resume and cover letter. Make sure to include not just your law school, but also any extracurricular activities you are participating in (such as law student organizations). Also, make sure that your resume and cover letter have the same font and formatting; you want to present a consistent application package to the employer. Check out our post on how to prepare your legal resume.
Hopefully, you already have at least one suit you can wear for your interview, but get one if you don’t have one yet. If you are coming from a more laid-back industry, like media or programming, remember that law is a conservative industry that holds to formal standards of dress. But that doesn’t mean you need to get a closet full of expensive suits! If you aren’t sure what suit to buy, ask your friends or classmates for recommendations. Also, take your suit to a tailor; if you buy a ready-to-wear suit at a store, a tailor can make some alterations to make the suit fit much better.
Check out our post on how to dress for your summer internship!
Get organized with a spreadsheet
You will be applying to a number of internships, and you want to stay organized. Use a spreadsheet to track application deadlines, required materials, important dates (when you submitted an application, interview dates, etc.), and any special notes. You don’t want anything to get lost in the shuffle!
2. Find summer internships.
Your law school’s career office should be your first stop in your 1L summer internship search. The career office will publicize job listings from potential employers. The career office will also provide tips and coaching for applying for jobs. Take advantage of their help!
A great resource for nonprofit or government jobs is the Public Service Jobs Directory (PSJD). PSJD is a project of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the association for legal career professionals (like the folks at your law school’s career office). PSJD constantly posts job announcements, and you can filter by a number of factors, including location. You can also use other search engines to look for law school internships. There are plenty of job-focused search engines, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter.
Remember: you want your resume to tell a story. Imagine that you are talking to an interviewer for your ideal job out of law school. What kind of experiences would you want to have on your resume? For example, if you are interested in environmental law, you would want to have lots of experiences related to environmental law. Even if you don’t yet know what kind of law you want to practice, having a goal will help direct the internships and classes you take.
3. Get funding for the summer.
Most likely, your summer internship will be unpaid, so you need to find ways to pay for the summer. Here are a couple of options to try (but as always, check with your law school career office for specific advice for your law school):
Equal Justice America provides grants for law students working with nonprofit legal aid providers. You need to be a student at one of their partner law schools. EJA funds all kinds of legal aid work, from housing to consumer to immigration.
Equal Justice Works also provides grants for nonprofit legal aid summer internships, but only focuses on specific issue areas. For example, in 2020 the focus is on rural communities and immigration law.
PSJD has a comprehensive list of summer funding sources and paid internship programs. This list gets constantly updated, so keep an eye on it!
Lastly, your local bar associations and lawyer affinity groups may have scholarships available to provide funding for the summer.
Once you’ve secured your 1L summer internship, make sure to read our post on how to prepare yourself for the summer internship. Best of luck!