Three Tips On Where To Work 1L Summer Job
After finishing your first year of law school, you may be tempted to just take it easy and rest. But your 1L summer is a critical time to get hands-on legal experience through an internship. In fact, you will start looking for your 1L summer internship before your first term of law school even ends! In this blog post, we will discuss three tips for figuring out where to work for your 1L summer job.
Three Tips On Where To Work 1L Summer Job
1. Write out your goals for the summer internship
Before you start your 1L summer internship search, you want to think through your goals for the internship. These goals will inform what kind of internship you want. Some common goals to consider are:
- Get a writing sample that you can use for other job applications
- Get a letter of recommendation for a future employer
- Build your professional network
- Explore a legal practice area that interests you
But you also may want your summer internship to give you an opportunity to go on an adventure to a new city or even a new country (some law students do an internship with an international organization). You also may want an internship that provides time for you to rest and recover from 1L year (some internships require long hours and heavy workloads).
Learn more about what to get out of your 1L summer experience!
2. Think about what kind of skills you want to develop
You should think about what kind of legal skills you want to develop. Do you want to build your legal research and writing skills? Then working for a judge would be a great idea. Would you prefer to get face-to-face experience with clients? Then look into a legal aid nonprofit opportunity.
If you’re not sure what you want to do or what skills you want to develop, talk to 2L or 3L students and ask them what they did for their summer internships. You may discover an opportunity that you never would have discovered on your own!
3. Consider where you want to work for the summer
Many different kinds of employers are interested in 1L summer interns, but keep in mind that most of these internships are unpaid. Private law firms and companies are less inclined to hire 1L students since 2L students have more experience and substantive legal knowledge to offer. Still, if you find a paid summer internship that matches your goals, apply!
Most students will work for one of three kinds of employers: (1) government agencies, (2) nonprofits, or (3) judges.
Government agencies at all levels (federal, state, local, and tribal) hire summer legal interns. If you are interested in pursuing a government job after graduation, try to secure one of these summer internships. This is especially true if you are interested in becoming a prosecutor or public defender; most such agencies will only hire law graduates who have worked in a criminal law internship for both 1L and 2L summers.
Nonprofits can provide great summer internships, with the opportunity to work on cases and interact with clients. But be careful; some nonprofits will hire summer interns and not know how to supervise them properly. Make sure to ask if the nonprofit has a structured internship program. Nonprofits are generally broken up into two categories: legal aid and advocacy. Legal aid nonprofits provide legal services to indigent clients, either directly or through supporting other organizations. Advocacy organizations pursue changes in the law through impact litigation, legislative efforts, and organizing. The ACLU and the Sierra Club are two well-known examples of advocacy organizations.
Many judges hire judicial externs (essentially summer interns) to support them in their chambers. Both federal and state judges may hire judicial externs. A judicial externship is a great way to get good legal research and writing experience, as you will be supporting the judge and their judicial clerks. You can also see attorneys come argue before the judge, and pick up on what distinguishes good attorneys from bad ones.
Don’t feel limited to these three kinds of employers! You can also work as a summer research assistant for a professor, which is a fantastic way to get research and writing experience and build a connection with that professor. Some law school clinics also provide summer internship opportunities. Lastly, some law schools may help you secure an internship abroad, which is a great opportunity to travel and see a new place! Be sure to check in with your school’s career services office for assistance!