Thursday, January 31, 2008

Advice For First-Year Law Students Seeking Summer Jobs

Some advice from William Chamberlain:

To focus so narrowly on large law firms is to ignore the plethora of opportunities available to first-year students. These opportunities are generally not as well-paid as the summer associate positions but can provide excellent experience. To look at the variety of options means to take the long view of one’s career. ..

For example, judicial externships while nearly always unpaid, give a student a behind-the-scenes view of how law is made...

First-year students could also consider performing research for a professor. They can explore an area of law that interests them and develop a close relationship with a professor who can then serve as a mentor and perhaps recommend them for jobs later on...

There are also myriad government and nonprofit opportunities from the ACLU to the SEC to the public defender to Lawyers for the Creative Arts. Students can put their first-year knowledge to use while helping people...

Smaller law firms provide excellent summer opportunities. While they may not have full-time openings for after graduation, students will learn more about the business of law, get more time in court and first-hand experience with individual clients than in a large law firm...

Corporate legal departments hire first-year students as interns...

Finally, there is I think in most law students, a desire to find out about some “dream” area of law in which it may be difficult to find a job right out of law school: working at the Smithsonian, or for a sports agency or for a first amendment lobbying group. Or perhaps work in a U.S. embassy abroad. The first-year summer is truly the time to open the box of jobs as wide as possible and take the risk of exploring one’s dream job.

Some final tips

  • Plan for the summer financially as an extension of the first-year of law school. It may be hard to make a lot of money during the summer after first-year but it is easy to learn and to get experience.
  • After a summer job, you will have a better idea of what kind of law you want to practice.
  • With the exception of a few jobs with early deadlines, the month of December should be used to study for finals. After finals and in January you will have plenty of time to focus on the job search.
  • In finding your summer job, networking may be your most in-demand skill. Be shameless and use every connection you have to land a job. Working for a relative is not a negative.
  • While it is important for your career to get some kind of legal experience for the summer, the type of experience does not matter as much as your enthusiasm for what you did.

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