You only have two summers to build your legal resume before you graduate law school, so each one counts. You can use the summer after your first year of law school to hone your legal research and writing skills, try out a practice area you’re interested in, get a chance to do public interest work before going into the private sector, and more. 1L students generally spend their summer doing one of the following: working in the public sector (i.e. for a public interest organization or the government), interning for a judge, working in-house for a corporation’s legal department, acting as a professor’s research assistant, or working at a law firm.
Employers are not allowed to start recruiting until December 1 (and some don’t start recruiting until after winter break), so it might seem like there’s nothing for you to do until then. Not true! While it is important to focus on your studies first semester, it’s also vital to take some time to prepare for the summer job search. When the time comes to start searching and applying for jobs, you want to be ready to go, not reformatting your resume or trying to decide what kinds of opportunities you’re interested in. Read on to find out what you can do now, before December 1 hits, to prepare for the 1L summer job search.
1. Update and polish your resume
You’ll likely need to make some tweaks and additions to your pre-law school resume. First, make sure to update your home and email addresses and add your law school and activities. Next, you’ll want to go through the work experiences you have listed and choose which you think are most relevant: quality (and brevity) over quantity! Finally, consider punching up your job descriptions to emphasize skills and qualities you developed that are transferable to the legal profession, like research, writing, attention to detail, advocacy, oral communication, etc. Some schools also have specific required formats for students’ resumes, so be sure to check with your school about that, which brings us to…
2. Make an appointment with Career Services
Law schools want all their students to find summer jobs, and the Office of Career Services is there to help you! Once mid-October hits, you should be allowed to make a one-on-one appointment with a counselor to get tailored advice based on your interests and goals and get some ideas as to what summer opportunities you might want to pursue. Meeting with Career Services is also a great opportunity to get feedback on resumes or cover letters or practice interviewing.
3. Go to your school’s career panels and events
Law schools typically offer lots of events to help students figure out their interests by hearing from professionals in the field. If you see an event on a topic that catches your eye, go! Not only will it help get your wheels turning as to what kind of job you might be interested in (both for 1L summer and down the road), but these events also provide great opportunities for making connections that you can reach back out to when you start looking for summer jobs in earnest.
4. Talk to upper-level students
Upper-level students are another great resource you have at your disposal when considering what you might want to do for your 1L summer. 2L and 3L students have been there before and can provide suggestions for organizations that hire 1Ls, tell you about their summer job experiences, and provide practical advice on the search. Try talking to your TAs, or asking them if they know anyone with similar interests to you. There’s bound to be someone who’s already trodden the path you want to be on, so get their wisdom!
5. Prepare for interviews
It might seem premature to start doing interview prep, but some application processes move fairly fast, so you might not have much time to practice between submitting applications and getting requests for interviews. Think about what story you want to tell to interviewers, and how you’ll convey that. This narrative should align with your resume and cover letter, and lead to a compelling reason why you want to work for a certain employer. Then, consider how you’ll answer typical questions like why you are in law school and what your career goals are, and brainstorm some anecdotes from your prior work experiences. Then practice, practice, practice—with family, friends, Career Services, neighbors, stuffed animals, anyone who will listen! It’s a misconception that practicing will lead to sounding too rehearsed—it’s far worse to sound like you never practiced at all! Being prepared is a good thing, especially in the legal profession.
6. Check out CareerDicta!
Here at the Law School Toolbox we have a bunch of great resources for planning your career. Try our career coaching to get help from an experienced BigLaw recruiter on anything from resume and cover letter review to career strategy to interview prep. Click here to browse through all of our career-related podcast episodes, and take a look at our list of career-related topics here to find specific articles on networking, career strategies, legal marketing, and more.
The 1L summer is a great time to try things out and get some experience with a bit less pressure than 1L summer, so don’t stress too much, there are plenty of 1L jobs out there!
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.
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