How To Score A 1L Summer Position
Whether you’re about to start your 1L year or already have one-semester completed, you’ve probably heard about 1L summer positions. 1L summer positions are vital to success in law school, but probably not for the reasons you might expect. While they likely won’t have an impact on the academic side of law school, they will impact the career side. A 1L summer position plays an important role in helping you secure a 2L summer associate position. In turn, that 2L position hopefully manifests itself into a full-time employment offer for after graduation and the Bar Exam.
How To Score A 1L Summer Position
For the most part, future employers don’t care about the substance of your 1L position. Instead they largely care only that you did something related to law. Now, that doesn’t mean landing a law firm job where your title is “office supply coordinator.” Think more along the lines of positions that involve legal research and writing, client interaction, or judicial clerkships.
Entering your 2L year with a 1L summer experience resumé gap is a negative from a hiring perspective. Think of it this way. There’s one law student who clerked with a local judge and another law student who traveled around Bali. I wonder who a future employer would choose?
We’re sure you’ve heard different advice on when to apply, who to speak to, and where to look for positions. Our goal is to simplify the process with some practical tips to help you land a 1L summer position.
Start Applying Towards the End of the First Semester
It’s always best to begin searching and applying for 1L summer positions towards the end of your first 1L semester and the beginning of your second. Ideally, late December after final exams is a perfect time. This gives you plenty of time to research different positions, apply, and interview. Although some students begin looking around March of their second 1L semester, that’s cutting it close. People often forget that the hiring process takes time! You don’t want to start interviewing in April and find out you didn’t get the position in early May. With summer around the corner, a majority of the class will have had positions locked down by then.
Utilize Your Law School’s Alumni Network
One of the best resources to tap when searching for a 1L summer opportunity is your law school’s alumni network. Alumni were once in your shoes and often like to help out new law school students as much as possible. Alumni have access to a huge network of fellow attorneys, law firms, and companies that all may need 1L interns. Reaching out to alumni for a cup of coffee or a zoom conference is highly recommended. Even if they don’t have any positions available, they likely know of someone hiring. Remember, alumni love hiring students from their alma mater.
Take Advantage of Career Services
Your law school’s career services platform is also a highly recommended resource to take advantage of. Most law school career services offices have dedicated websites and portals for students to view new hiring opportunities. Having a conversation with the office staff may lead to them pointing you in the direction of a hidden opportunity. Of course, the downside to the career services platform is that all your fellow classmates also have access. That means it may seem like everybody is applying and talking about the same posting the next day in class.
Flexibility is Key
It’s not uncommon for students to accept positions in areas of the law they have no interest in. Students interested in family law may accept an internship at a civil litigation firm. Those who enjoy corporate law may end up clerking for a local judge. Others may decide to enter into a study abroad program with their law school. Some students may accept paid roles, while others accept non-paid positions.
Flexibility is the name of the game when landing a 1L summer position. Don’t expect to land a 1L internship at the exact law firm practicing the precise law you plan to practice. Remember, it’s not exactly what you do, but more of the fact that you do something law-related that’s important.
Persistence is a Virtue
While some 1L summer positions are more competitive than others, never give up hope that you’ll land a great experience. For example, paid positions are obviously more sought after and attract more applicants, so don’t get discouraged. Some local judges are more popular than others and their clerkship positions may fill sooner. While it may seem like everyone you know is scoring a 1L summer position daily, your time will come. Don’t stop applying or interviewing, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way.