Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

Best summer plan for purposes of law school

PI internship
5
83%
Research
1
17%
 
Total votes: 6

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RZ5646
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Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:34 pm

I plan on applying to law school in the fall and I have two good but mutually exclusive options this summer. Please advise me.

Option 1: Internship with public defender. 10-20 hours per week with a flexible schedule, seems fairly laid-back but will still give me experiences to talk about, I know one of the attorneys and he's cool. I'm favoring this option because I have no prior legal experience, and that will make "why law?" an awkward question in interviews. I'd also do a paid internship or part-time job at the same time.

Option 2: Paid independent research. Basically I'll get paid to research an obscure topic in the humanities and attend meetings where other people discuss their obscure research projects. This would probably make a great writing sample and letter of recommendation as well as lead to a special honors degree, but I have no interest in going to grad school so I'm not sure how valuable that really is. I'm already doing a double major and have a great gpa (4.0 school / 4.15 LSAC), so my academic credentials are probably strong enough already, right?

Finances will work out basically the same either way so that's not an issue.

My lofty goals: T14 full tuition scholly and then biglaw or bigfed.

So my question is, Is one of these options obviously better than the other?

omegaweapon
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby omegaweapon » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:44 pm

0L here, but I feel like neither would really help you for admissions, but the PD internship could help you a little at OCI so that's probably the best option.

Maybe you can spend 5-6 hours a week on your own trying to publish something to get the best of both worlds. 20 hours a week isn't really enough work to not be bored IME.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:48 pm

Thanks for the reply. I agree that numbers are 98% of law admissions so there's no bad option here. If I go with the first option I would definitely be doing something else at the same time to make money and alleviate boredom. For the second option I'm actually not permitted to do anything except research full-time or they'll take my funding away.

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swampman
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby swampman » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:01 pm

If you could get published that would be good.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:06 pm

swampman wrote:If you could get published that would be good.


I doubt I could get published, but I just wanted to say you have a sweet avatar. Reminds me of old Windows screen savers.

stt1
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby stt1 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:29 pm

Number 2, if you are confident it will mean working closely with a prof who will write a letter of rec for you (and you don't already have 2 strong other ones). Getting 2 letters of rec with profs who know you well and can demonstrate your ability with specific examples from their experience is helpful. I think this is especially true since you want a t14 full scholarship, which can often require that all parts of the application, not just the numbers, are excellent.
Last edited by stt1 on Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DrSpaceman
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby DrSpaceman » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:32 pm

Research. Get that letter.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:37 pm

Eh, either one is totally fine. Whichever you'd honestly prefer.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:51 pm

The potential strong LoR is what makes this a difficult choice. Right now my best LoRs are average or weak. I go to a huge school where there isn't much one-on-one interaction with professors.

Will weak LoRs kill my scholarship chances even if I'm above both 75ths? I know it's stupid to predict LSAT scores, but I got 174 on my 3rd timed practice test so I'm fairly confident I'll have very strong numbers if I study diligently for June.

beautyistruth
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby beautyistruth » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:55 pm

Honestly don't think either will help or hurt you. First might give you a leg up for 1L internships, but as far as those go, they're usually not permanent positions, it's not too hard to obtain one, and employers don't care what you do 2L as long as you can talk about it, so getting a leg up for 1L's not too big a deal. As for 2L, if you want to do a 2L SA, employers don't care what you do before law school as long as you can chit chat intelligently about it. The humanities research position will absolutely not hurt you and will help if you can speak intelligently about it if asked. If you want to do PI, then I'm not sure.

stt1
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby stt1 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:03 am

RZ5646 wrote:The potential strong LoR is what makes this a difficult choice. Right now my best LoRs are average or weak. I go to a huge school where there isn't much one-on-one interaction with professors.

Will weak LoRs kill my scholarship chances even if I'm above both 75ths? I know it's stupid to predict LSAT scores, but I got 174 on my 3rd timed practice test so I'm fairly confident I'll have very strong numbers if I study diligently for June.


It might not completely kill your chances, but there are always many more people that fit numbers than receive the very top scholarship offers. To maximize your chances, you need to develop 2 profs who can write strong letters. You might be able to work at that in what is left of this semester (start developing a relationship with a prof from one your classes by visiting office hours to discuss further, getting detailed feedback on a research paper you are writing for that class, discussing your career plans, etc), but using the summer to develop a strong relationship with a 2nd professor seems like a wise choice. Either that, or find another way, but get 2 strong letter writers who know your ability well.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:04 am

I guess another relevant question is, would having zero legal experience before law school significantly harm me in LS admissions or at OCI? Do they really not care about that? I've been working in one job or another since I was 16, but I haven't done anything even slightly law-related since my high school mock trial days.

Note: I am not attached to PI.

stt1
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby stt1 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:09 am

RZ5646 wrote:I guess another relevant question is, would having zero legal experience before law school significantly harm me in LS admissions or at OCI? Do they really not care about that? I've been working in one job or another since I was 16, but I haven't done anything even slightly law-related since my high school mock trial days.

Note: I am not attached to PI.


No, that won't hurt you at all in admissions. Otherwise equivalent, I'd bet non-legal experience even does slightly better, to the extent it is likely to be something they see less often and thus more interesting (this assumes it isn't TFA or consulting). They don't care if you've done specifically legal things, as long as you come off as mature and well-informed to the extent you decide to engage with "why law" in your essays (and that itself is a choice, and can be done well in either case).

No clue on the general question for OCI, but tend to think 10 hours a week interning at a PD office will not do anything critical for you there. Probably 2 years of paralegal work at Skadden would help a good deal on the other hand, but that is not what you are considering.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:16 am

Thanks. I'd like to get a second opinion, but you're definitely swaying me towards research now since LoRs are probably my greatest weakness. I tend to do well in class, but I never go to office hours.

stt1
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby stt1 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:25 am

RZ5646 wrote:Thanks. I'd like to get a second opinion, but you're definitely swaying me towards research now since LoRs are probably my greatest weakness. I tend to do well in class, but I never go to office hours.


One way to get more/better input would be to try eliminating particulars and reducing your question to two parts: (1) are letters of rec important for t14 full scholarship offers; and (2) do you have other good options for getting both needed letters. (2) you can answer on your own, and (1) you can research through past threads here on tls, extrapolate from external blogs covering arguably somewhat analogous situations, and perhaps even ask a real authority, like Spivey.

If you haven't done so already, you should probably also read through the 203 admissions blog's admissions advice posts, start to finish. Will be some of the most useful hours you will spend, and probably the kinds of things that make a good Yale app are also the kinds that make a good scholarship candidate at many top schools. Plus, Dean Asha has a fun writing style that really cuts to the heart of matters. Here is one of her posts on LoR http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... ation.aspx

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:43 am

Well that's assuming that having no legal experience is not harmful enough to watch out for, which I'm not sure is a foregone conclusion, but I agree, it probably comes down to the letters.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:14 am

RZ5646 wrote:Well that's assuming that having no legal experience is not harmful enough to watch out for, which I'm not sure is a foregone conclusion, but I agree, it probably comes down to the letters.

I'd rather stab myself in the eye than do the research option you describe ("attend meetings where other people discuss their obscure research projects," jfc), but it seems like a good choice to get a good LOR. Any writing sample you get won't be useful, since you'll need to have a legal writing sample later on.

The VAST majority of law students have no legal experience when applying to law school, so that won't hurt you.

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:29 am

Wait I thought law schools required writing samples from applicants... am I mistaken?

ETA: Looks like I was mistaken. Must have been a holdover from when I wanted to go to grad school.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:42 am

RZ5646 wrote:Wait I thought law schools required writing samples from applicants... am I mistaken?

ETA: Looks like I was mistaken. Must have been a holdover from when I wanted to go to grad school.

Nah, you'll need to write a personal statement and possibly some supplemental/optional essays. New stuff.

When applying for legal jobs (including for 1L summer), you'll need a legal writing sample. Your first one will likely be a memo or brief from your legal writing class, and then you try and get something usable from your 1L summer work to use during the 2L job hunt.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:22 am

Just chiming in to confirm that complete lack of legal experience of any kind doesn't matter for admissions (or employment).

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RZ5646
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Re: Summer dilemma: Public interest internship vs. research

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:03 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Just chiming in to confirm that complete lack of legal experience of any kind doesn't matter for admissions (or employment).


I guess the obvious answer then is to pursue the research project and shore up my weak LoRs. Thanks.




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