It can be a challenge to secure law-related work experience during the summer after your first year of law school. For this reason, 1L’s who seek legal work during their first summer will search broadly not during the Spring On-Campus Interview season (which takes place during Spring Semester), but also for other paid and unpaid meaningful legal experiences.
As one local hiring attorney noted, “It’s really hard to get paid work your first summer. Sometimes, the best thing [a 1L] can do to make a résumé stand out [for future recruiting] is to just try to do something interesting!” There are many ways to try to get an interesting summer experience—paid or not.
First, if you want to work out of state—particularly for a large firm, you need to start researching and preparing application materials as soon as possible. Many large out-of-state firms begin to fill their 1L summer hiring needs soon after December 1. If your research reveals that an out of state firm is accepting applications beginning in December, or if you are not sure, you should submit your materials early (and to the person identified on the website as the recruiting contact). You can explain in your cover letter that you do not yet have grades and that you will supplement your application materials when you get them. To research larger/out of state firms, start with the following:
- Go to http://martindale.com/, and click “advanced search” to find firms and attorneys by locations, law schools, practice areas, etc.
- Go to www.nalpdirectory.com, and click on “advanced search” to find information provided by firms which are members of NALP.
- Visit PDO to review Vault books or discuss firms you are considering.
- Use your Westlaw and Lexis resources.
Second, all 1L’s should become familiar with the College of Law’s Clinical Program, which allows students to earn college credit while working in a legal job ‘placement.’ In May, 1L students are reclassified as 2L’s and are eligible to participate in the clinical program. For example, next summer rising 2L’s can work for judges (Judicial Clinic), a variety of nonprofit or government agencies (Civil and Environmental Clinics). Take some time to review the Clinical Program offerings.
Second, start checking job boards on a routine basis. There are currently some internships nationwide posted for 1L’s on PDO’s Symplicity-based job board. More are regularly posted. You can also check job boards from other law schools by visiting the Intercollegiate Job Bulletin Bank. (Link, username and password are in the “Passwords” Document in the Document Library on Symplicity).
Third, consider applying for a summer internship with a government agency. This type of experience not only looks great to prospective employers if you are interested in a career in government, but is also often viewed very favorably by private employers. In fact, a seasoned hiring attorney who visited campus this fall from a large New York City firm strongly urged students to get experience in the federal government. Many summer opportunities in federal and other levels of government, paid and unpaid, are listed in the Government Honors and Internship Handbook: http://www.law.arizona.edu/career/honorshandbook.cfm (username and password are in the Document Library on Symplicity).
Fourth, consider applying for one (or more) fellowships. A fellowship typically allows the recipient to do work in a particular government agency, nonprofit, or to do research in and area of law. Many national and some local firms also sponsor well-paying fellowships during summers, particularly for students with diverse backgrounds. Follow this College of Law link for a listing of several fellowships, scholarships, and awards:http://www.law.utah.edu/awards/. Further, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) maintains the following list of awards and fellowships open to diverse students: http://www.nalp.org/memberdiversityinitiatives . PDO also maintains a spreadsheet of Diversity Fellowships offered by firms in the Document Library on Symplicity – this is currently being updated. Watch your email for more information on the updates, and on local diversity opportunities. Another resource to research fellowships is www.pslawnet.org –visit today and sign up for an account using your law school email address. Finally, various sections of the ABA offer summer fellowships and internships in various areas of law, often with a stipend. Go to www.abanet.org and search for Fellowships and Internships.