‘Tis the season to be jolly, or, if you’re a 1L, to breathe a deep sigh of relief that you made it through your first semester of law school. Congratulations! It’s no small feat, and I certainly hope you will take some time to enjoy a much-deserved break. However, if you don’t already have a summer job lined up, there are a few things you can do to make productive use of your time off after you’ve finished binge-watching the next installment of Making a Murderer or Bodyguard (highly recommended).
Back in June, I wrote about what incoming 1Ls could do during the summer to set the stage for the 1L job search. If you haven’t done any or all of these things, now is a great time to tackle them. Below you’ll find further guidance for both 1Ls and 2Ls on each of the areas covered in the original post, along with a few additional suggestions.
Prepare or Update Your Resume
Drafting or updating your resume is the first task I would undertake. It’s important to have a current resume ready to go; if you need it on short notice, the fewer changes you have to make the better. Also, if you’re not under any time constraints, it’ll be easier to perfect it and have someone else review it before you send it off.
Be sure to include any new organizations or activities you were involved in this semester. If you’re a 1L, you may also want to add your GPA and class rank from the first semester once you have them. Keep in mind that this will be one of the first things that an employer sees on your resume, so if grades aren’t your strongest selling point, it may be better to leave them off of the resume.
Get Acquainted with LinkedIn
While you’re working on your resume, you might as well also create/populate/update your LinkedIn profile, though remember that it shouldn’t be a carbon copy of your resume. Make sure you have a current, professional-looking headshot. If you don’t have one, we’ve just identified another winter break project! It doesn’t have to be a professional photograph, but (1) they aren’t terribly expensive, (2) it’s probably worth the investment, and (3) it’s usually not that difficult to find a new photographer looking to build their portfolio. Forbes has provided some helpful advice on headshots (with bonus tips on crafting your headline and summary) and even links to a few good examples.
LinkedIn is also a great place to find alumni, follow employers, and search for jobs. It’s wise to make it part of your job search toolkit.
Apply for Jobs
As I mentioned in the original post, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has a set of Principles and Standards that place restrictions on when first-year students can do certain things. However, the provision restricting contact with potential employers lifted on December 1, so 1Ls are now free to apply for any job their heart desires. Many firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations have already posted summer positions for both 1Ls and 2Ls, so it definitely isn’t too early to be thinking about this.
Outside of applying for jobs that are posted, targeted mailings can be an effective method to find something. There are always employers who don’t formally advertise their job openings. Send out your resume and a targeted cover letter or email designed to appeal to a particular employer or type of employer in the market where you’re hoping to work.
I recognize that some of you may not plan to submit any applications over break. The law school where I work has a very robust On-Campus Interview program for first-year students in the spring, so many of our 1Ls don’t begin actively applying for any jobs until they return to campus in January. Regardless, you can still begin researching some of the organizations you are interested in and prepare a cover letter draft that can be tweaked when you are ready to apply.
Connect with Potential Employers
If you’re hoping to work somewhere other than the city where you’re attending law school, now can be a good time to try to meet with employers. Last year, one of our 1Ls wanted to return to her hometown in Iowa for the summer. She set up meetings with a number of law firms while she was back home over break, and accepted an offer before she even had first-semester grades.
Some major law firms host holiday receptions for first-year law students attending schools outside of the area. Invitations are often extended directly to law schools, so check with your CSO for more information. Two current students I’ve worked with attended this type of event when they were 1Ls and went on to get a summer associate position with the firm as 2Ls.
For more helpful advice on legal careers and the job search process, check out these additional resources:
- Podcast Episode 120: Preparing for the 1L Job Hunt (With Ex-BigLaw Recruiter Sadie Jones)
- Preparing for Your Legal Career: 10 Books to Read Before You Begin Law School
- 5 Reasons to Take an Unpaid Internship
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