Your 1L summer should be a very exciting time! After all, you are taking your first step towards becoming a real lawyer. For many students, this will be their first introduction to a legal work environment –which will be an invaluable learning experience. However, finding that first summer job can be a challenging and stressful process that continues throughout the spring. Fortunately, there are still plenty of jobs available (even if they aren’t your dream job), and there are a number of things you can consider doing to improve your applications and expand your search. Remember, the important thing about your 1L summer is that you get SOME legal experience – so keep an open mind and put your best foot forward!
Make a Plan
At this point, finding a summer job is probably far from the only thing you have on your plate. The closer you inch towards finals, the more difficult it may be to find the time to work on your job search. I know, probably not what you want to hear – but I point this out to highlight the fact that you need to carefully budget time to apply for jobs. This can help ensure that it doesn’t get pushed off of your to-do list, or take up so much time that it detracts from your school work. Try to look at your schedule each week and find a couple of hours to devote solely to applying to jobs. During this time, set some realistic goals for yourself. For example, maybe you want to apply to at least 5 new jobs each week. Whatever your specific plan is, be sure to stick to it!
Re-evaluate your Materials
Have you had anyone look at your resume and cover letter recently? If not, and you aren’t hearing back from many (or any) employers, now might be a good time to ask for some help. If nothing else, another set of eyes can help you identify any potential spelling and grammar issues that may be causing your application to wind up in the recycling bin. However, if you take your materials to your career services office they will likely be able to help you with much more than that. Your career counselors are trained specifically to help you get a job, and that includes helping you to present yourself in the most positive way possible through your materials. Your career counselor should be able to help you organize and highlight your materials so that they are as attractive as possible to legal employers.
Of course, don’t forget about your writing sample! If you’re applying for positions that require a writing sample and you’re still not having much luck, you should seriously consider asking someone to review it with you. Legal writing professors or TA’s are probably the best resource for this, as writing is their expertise. Similar to typos in your resume or cover letter, errors or sloppiness in your writing sample could cause your application to be pushed aside very quickly. Attention to detail is key here – consider reading it out loud to catch any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Also, be sure to carefully check all of your citations, as first year students can be prone to making errors there.
Be Realistic in your Expectations
It would be wonderful if every law student could get a paying summer job in the exact location that they wanted – but sadly, that is just not the reality. For 1Ls in particular, most jobs will be unpaid and are unlikely to be your dream job. The important thing for your 1L summer is that you get some legal experience to add to your resume, even if it is unpaid. Even though it may make things more difficult, there are some things you can consider doing to help compensate for this and expand your job search. For example, can you look for a job close to family, so that you can stay with a relative rather than paying rent for the summer? Can you get a part-time job on the weekends or evenings? In addition, many schools have funding opportunities available for certain types of jobs, so be sure that you are aware of what your school offers and when the application deadlines are. Being realistic and flexible are crucial to expanding your 1L employment options.
Ask for Help
If you still don’t have a job and you haven’t been to your school’s career services office, now is the time to make an appointment! Your career advisors are there to help you find a job, but they can’t help you if you don’t ask for it. Most career offices will have connections in the local job market, and may be able to point you towards job openings that you didn’t otherwise know existed. In addition, they may be able to forward new openings to you if they know that you’re still searching for a job. Private career services, such as CareerDicta, can provide you with expert guidance from experienced professionals throughout your legal job hunt.
Contrary to what many believe, there are still plenty of 1L summer jobs available in the spring. With a little extra effort and an open mind, you should have no problem finding a place to get some legal experience during your 1L summer.
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