Yes! The answer is an overwhelming yes!! Immediately block out all the pretentious buzz and chatter that has told you otherwise, because building your confidence and accepting this truth is the first step to landing a job this summer.
Contrary to all the horror stories you may have heard before beginning law school, grades aren’t everything. Now don’t get me wrong, grades are extremely important. But it’s not necessary to be at the top of your law school class in order to be successful. During law school, I came across plenty of people who shared their success stories of landing big law jobs and even federal clerkships while getting average or sub-par grades during law school. Yes, they had to work harder at their job search than their peers in the top 10 percent. But ultimately they landed their dream jobs by either networking, doing unpaid internships which opened more doors or taking advantage of the career resources that their school had to offer.
1. Network and Then Follow Up!
Let’s face it, if you’re an introvert, the thought of networking makes you uncomfortable. Heck, I consider myself to be somewhat extroverted and networking immediately gives me butterflies in my stomach. However, during my job hunt I had to quickly face the reality that it’s all about who you know and not necessarily what you know that can get you a job. So put yourself out there!
- Attend every networking event your school has to offer. I recall during my law school days, my school would have events on campus at which local practitioners would attend solely to discuss their field of practice. Check with your career services office and make sure that you’re in the loop if such an event takes place on your campus.
- Join your city’s bar association and becoming a member of practice sections in which you’re interested. Oftentimes these practice sections will have breakfast meetings and luncheons which you can attend for free as a member. This is an excellent opportunity to meet other attorneys, law students and judges.
- Participate in student organizations that align with your practice areas of interest. These organizations will bring well noted practitioners that you could speak to directly.
Tips For the Nervous Networker
If the thought of networking makes you nervous, how about:
- Attending these networking events with a friend. Having another person at your side may put you more at ease.
- Online legal networking? As a fellow nervous networker, I frequently used LinkedIn or simply random google searches to find contacts within my practice area of interest. Usually upon reaching out to these contacts, they were more than happy to meet up for coffee or a quick bite to eat.
- Trying these talking points to ease into a smooth discussion at a networking event.
Most importantly, once you’ve networked, you need to follow up! Make a goal to find at least one solid connection at these networking events and then reach out to that person the very next day to set up either an informational interview or a quick coffee or lunch meeting.
At the very least, this person would likely be willing to give you at least 10 minutes of their time over the phone. So don’t be afraid. Reach out! I wouldn’t recommend bringing up the fact that you want a job in your first interaction. Take some time to build a professional relationship with that person. Once they’ve gotten a chance to see your passion for their practice area, they could very easily become the lead to your summer job.
2. Unpaid Internships
Yes, I know attending law school costs a pretty penny. And after spending the entire year living off student loans it’s certainly appealing to have a paid job for the summer. Yes, this may be appealing but it’s not necessarily realistic, especially as a 1L. Let’s face it, as a 1L you’re learning a lot, but you’re still pretty new to this whole law thing. Therefore, employers are a bit apprehensive to hire you because they may not quite trust you as yet. Despite this, there are a ton of unpaid internships that could be an excellent lead to your 2L summer job and your ultimate post-grad position. The best part is that usually your grades aren’t the deciding factor for such positions.
Consider becoming a judicial intern or even working for an organization that’s related to your practice area of interest. My 1L summer I worked as a judicial intern. Although it was unpaid, I learned so much and had the opportunity to build a professional relationship with a judge. Also, if you work in an unpaid position at a government organization such as the EEOC your 1L summer, this experience could open the door to a career in Labor & Employment law later.
If you’re worried about money, you could definitely apply for a public interest scholarship or grant to get you through the summer. Check with your career services office to see what funding opportunities are available for you.
3. Use Your Career Office
Last but not least, take advantage of the resources that your career services office has to offer. This office has literally been instituted to find you a job, so use it! Your career office can definitely provide you with all the resources you need to tackle networking and to find an unpaid internship. So set up a meeting with your career services advisor TODAY! I assure you that they will be able to point you in the right direction based on your interests despite your grades. So give them a try!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Tips for Legal Writing at Your Summer Job
- Writing Effectively in Your Summer Legal Job
- Getting Ready for Your BigLaw Summer Job
- How to Evaluate Your Summer Legal Job Experience
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