Attention 2L’s: Spring semester has sprung! Do you know what your summer job plans are yet? This summer is crucial to your future legal career goals. Unlike the internship you secured during your 1L summer, 2L summer internships pave the way for possible 3L school-year roles, as well as for potential permanent careers that go beyond law school graduation.
By this point in the year, there are three primary responses that 2Ls typically provide to the question of, how is the job search going? The first relates to those who have already found a position. These law students usually compose the top 10% of the class and were hired by ‘Big Law’ firms during the fall recruiting period. The second refers to law students who used their holiday break to apply or network, and are in the midst of the interview process by early spring semester. Finally, there are law students, those most likely reading this post, who are still seeking that coveted summer spot.
If you are in the final category, do not panic! Check out some of the ideas below to propel you onwards in your successful search for a 2L summer job.
Think about your 1L summer internship. Write down everything you liked and disliked about the job, including whether or not you enjoyed the type of law you were immersed in all summer. Also, take into consideration the types of classes you have been taking for the past two years. Are you specializing in a particular legal field? If you are not, did one of your classes interest you more than the others? Do you have a general idea of the kind of law you would rather not focus on for legal practice, i.e., Litigation vs. Transactional; Civil vs. Criminal? Start considering your post-grad plans and set real goals.
If you are unsure of your career trajectory, or are struggling to find an opening, schedule an appointment with your institution’s OCS/Career Services. The counselor’s can guide you towards a structured path for your career goals, and sometimes they know of openings that are not posted elsewhere or can reach out to certain employers on your behalf. Make sure to follow-up and keep in touch with career services periodically throughout your search. The more contact you have with them, the better your chances are that they will remember to contact you when a pertinent opportunity arises.
Alternatively, if there is a professor you trust or who teaches a subject that intrigues you, email them because they may know of some openings as well. You can also ask if they are in need of a research assistant.
As a last resort, obtain an alumni list from career services. Reach out to alumni (who work in your field of interest), to set-up an informational meeting. They may know someone who is looking for an intern, or at the very least, can counsel you on your next move to break into that particular legal niche.
Did you work or participate in a clinic during the school year? If not, then continue searching for a summer position because you should have some kind of work experience from 2L on your resume. However, if nothing materializes for summer, focus on finding a clerkship, fellowship, or a job that you are realistically considering as a career, for the 3L school year. See if it is possible to take any requisite classes during the summer instead, so that way you can work full time in the fall.
This is a solid plan for three reasons: clerkships usually mandate that their candidates work full-time; firms are more likely to hire law students who can give ample time to them, as opposed to having to leave early or work less hours due to class; and it fills the resume gap you will have for the summer with a valuable excuse. Additionally, since summer class hours are shorter than the hours you would have to put in for a full work-week, you will have more opportunities to interview for 3L jobs and apply to post-grad fellowships.
Research & Network
You should first identify prospective employers. Look for networking events those employers are holding, or if any of their employees are speaking at specific industry conferences. If you cannot find networking events, then try reaching out to their hiring representatives to ask if there are any openings available. Do not be afraid to re-apply to positions or to contact people you met in the fall to see if their hiring needs have changed. Also, while you should consult your own network first, try branching out by seeking second connections on LinkedIn or asking friends of friends. If you do decide to reach out blindly, be precise in what you are asking for and be mindful of their time.
The reason positions are so competitive by 2L year is because many are paid. It might not be ideal, but if you can manage an unpaid position, ask places you really want to work at if you could shadow a current employee or to work for them for free. Also, seek out any volunteer opportunities. Many public interest options can use extra legal aid.
On a final note, do not forget to attend spring career fairs, such as PILC. Check government websites for any missed federal opportunities. In terms of firms, small firms are probably your best bet for finding an opening this late in the year. Determine whether there is a small firm in your desired work location and send personal correspondence directly to one of their attorneys, or again, find out which networking events that they frequently attend. (Don’t be creepy though!).
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