For most students, the main purpose of obtaining a legal education is simple: to get a good job. To achieve that goal, it is absolutely essential to gain practical work experience, whether it’s a clerkship at BigLaw or volunteering at a non-profit. The work experience you gain throughout law school, and particularly during your first summer break, is often just as important as your academic record when it comes to securing a full-time job post-graduation. While you’re toiling away at your summer internship, keep in mind that this is not just an opportunity to build your resume (although that’s important), but also an opportunity to establish personal connections within the legal profession.
Forming personal relationships with the judges, lawyers, and staff that you meet during your summer internship will serve two important purposes. First, managers want to hire people that they get along with or that they at least won’t mind seeing around the office on a daily basis. The more they like you – not just as a hard worker but also as a pleasant and engaging person – the more likely they are to ask you back next summer, consider you for a full-time position, or recommend you to another firm that might be hiring. Second, the most productive way to land a job is not by submitting hundreds of resumes or cold calling law firms, but through personal contacts. The more lawyers you get to know throughout the summer, the bigger your network of connections will be when it comes time to secure a job post-graduation and the more comfortable you will feel asking them for a reference or for information on job opportunities.
Of course, establishing a legitimate network of connections won’t occur without some effort. I know that socializing at law firm functions can feel forced (or downright awkward at times), but you have to try to take advantage of every social event and interaction. These are valuable opportunities to foster personal relationships with people who could prove crucial to your future job prospects, and your absence or disengagement at these events will definitely be noted. So be sure to attend every happy hour, accept every lunch invitation, and take every chance to chat up a coworker in the break room (even if it means staying late to finish that research memo). Social functions and interactions are your chance to show the lawyers and staff that you are the type of friendly and accommodating person they wouldn’t mind having around the office every day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you should also be working hard. A strong work ethic, reliability, and a willingness to take on projects that make other people’s lives easier will go a long way towards currying favor around the office. But don’t discount the importance of spending a little time socializing this summer. The connections you make now might just be the key to securing a full-time position later on down the line.
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- Tips for Legal Writing in Your Summer Job
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