A short guide to planning 1L summer

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theRobotpimp
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A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby theRobotpimp » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:32 pm

*I know vanwinkle did an excellent job writing a primer for 1L summer employment (http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=107596). Below is a shorter step by step guide to planning your 1L summer before school begins, in order to save valuable time & energy during the crazy 1L school year:


Grades are very important during 1L year and so there is much discussion on this board about 0L prep and what to do over the summer before school begins. There is no question that 1L grades can make or break your law school career; the intense discussion is obviously warranted. However, I feel that anyone who is ONLY focusing on doing their best academically is missing the big picture, and they should ask themselves:

What do you want to get out of your legal career?

What I mean is: Do you want to be a lawyer at a big firm? Do you want to be a public interest attorney? Do you want to be a prosecutor or a criminal defense attorney? Etc.

I know what you’re thinking. You wrote the answer to that question in your essay when you applied to school, but now you are probably just waiting for your first meeting with career services in November (as dictated by the NALP) to work out your summer employment. Allow me to emphasize something you already know: 1L year is crazy. You will probably be more stressed and busy during this year than you will be during the rest of law school. Do you really think that you will have time to focus on this in November when papers and exams are looming? Not likely. You will be rushed, you will not do the best job you could, and it will take away from precious studying time. Don’t be the student who is scrambling to find SOMETHING to do at the last minute.

So over your summer before law school, I advise you to plan your 1L summer. Here is a short guide on how you can do this:

1. Figure out what area(s) of law you are interested in practicing.
I’m not telling you to figure out EXACTLY what you want to do when you graduate now. That knowledge can only come from your experiences during your externships. But how can you get an externship if you don’t even know what areas of law you are interested in? Find a copy of “The Official Guide to Legal Specialties” by Lisa Abrams. The author interviewed 5 or 6 different attorneys in 30 different areas of practice about their day to day life. You can also find Q&A’s with lawyers just by Googling different practice areas and by searching the TLS forums.

2. Observe and speak to attorney’s who practice the area of law you are interested in.
There are several ways to do this, the easiest one being if you want to be a trial attorney. All you have to do is go down to the local courthouse and watch the trials. Find the online calendar for the courthouse and go on a busy day.
If you want to work in a private firm, network using your friends and family to find an attorney who works at a firm that handles your area of interest. Set up an informational meeting with them. You can also work with your undergraduate alumni office to find lawyers to speak to.

3. Find out what kinds of externships give you the experience you need.
This may be fairly obvious at times. Working in Biglaw typically requires a summer internship at the firm you desire. If you want to clerk after graduation you should extern for a judge. But maybe your interest in being a trial attorney would be well served by externing for a judge 1L summer, and getting a behind the scenes look at how a judge makes decisions? Talk to young attorneys and law students to hear how they chose their externships.

4. Pick your targets.
Decide where you are going to apply now (not in December). If you are interested in working at a law firm, use the NALP Directory of Legal Employers (http://nalpdirectory.com/) and Martindale (http://www.martindale.com/) to locate firms that accept 1L summer associate applications
If you want to extern for a judge, find the county court website for a list of judges and their mailing addresses. Then head to the county law library or try to access the law library at your school to find Judicial Profiles so you can read more about the judges. If one is an alumnus of your school perhaps he/she will favor your application over others.
If you plan on working in a public interest, government or a DA/PD office, check the website for each organization and call them to confirm their application requirements.

5. Figure out what opportunities your school has for you in your area of interest.
Scour your law school’s website to research the employment opportunities available to students. For example, perhaps you are interested in a judicial or DA externship next summer, and realize that your school has a specific program tailored to this goal. You should also find out which professor is the point person for each program so you can reach out to them. There may even be grants from your school to help you make money in an otherwise unpaid internship (public interest for example).

6. Know the time frame for applying.
Once you pick what externships you want to apply for, find out exactly what you need and when you need to submit it. As a general guide, you should know that the NALP has rules that every law school and student is expected to follow. You are not allowed to meet with Office of Career Services (OCS) until November 1st and you cannot contact or be contacted by potential employers until after December 1st (see full guidelines here: http://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards).
Research the employers you are going to target and find out when they accept applications for next summer. Typical items needed for an application include a resume, a legal writing sample and a cover letter.

7. Have a backup plan.
Unless you have a relative who is a partner at a law firm, your potential summer employment is not a guarantee so plan accordingly. For example, if you are trying to land a Federal Judicial externship, you might also want to apply as a judicial extern at the state level as well, as Federal Judicial externships can be competitive. Come up with a plan A, B and C so you are covered.

8. Be ready on December 1st.
It’s important that you FINISH your resume, cover letters and any other materials you will need BEFORE school begins. Then meet with OCS in November and get their notes/advice on your materials, which will hopefully be minimal. For examples of resumes and cover letters go to the OCS section of your school’s website. Also, don’t limit yourself only to YOUR school’s website, as other law schools can have great advice too. Have your applications stamped and ready to go on December 1st so you can just drop them in the mail. You don’t want to be doing much else with your applications during reading or exam period.

Good luck!

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solotee
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby solotee » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:16 pm

Thank you! I was waiting for this post, very helpful.

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deegee22
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby deegee22 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:18 am

theRobotpimp wrote:If you want to work in a private firm, network using your friends and family to find an attorney who works at a firm that handles your area of interest. Set up an informational meeting with them. You can also work with your undergraduate alumni office to find lawyers to speak to.


I have seen various threads addressing specific situations involving this process, but do you have any general advice for how to go about doing this? I know three attorneys at big firms for whom I'd love to work, I just haven't come up with how to set something like this up. Would I just be looking to ask questions about law school? Would it be a little pushy/inconsiderate to ask for many details on summer programs, etc?

Any general advice for this kind of thing? What to expect should I successfully set something up? Thanks in advance!

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theRobotpimp
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby theRobotpimp » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:56 am

deegee22 wrote:
theRobotpimp wrote:If you want to work in a private firm, network using your friends and family to find an attorney who works at a firm that handles your area of interest. Set up an informational meeting with them. You can also work with your undergraduate alumni office to find lawyers to speak to.


I have seen various threads addressing specific situations involving this process, but do you have any general advice for how to go about doing this? I know three attorneys at big firms for whom I'd love to work, I just haven't come up with how to set something like this up. Would I just be looking to ask questions about law school? Would it be a little pushy/inconsiderate to ask for many details on summer programs, etc?

Any general advice for this kind of thing? What to expect should I successfully set something up? Thanks in advance!


When are you planning to contact these attorneys? Do you have some kind of connection to them, or are you cold calling?

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deegee22
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby deegee22 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:50 pm

I was planning on contacting them in the next couple weeks, before classes start. I have known all three of them for quite some time, as they are family friends. I guess what my question boils down to - in addition to any general advice you may have for one of these lunches - is would it be faux pas to ever ask about 1L summer employment opportunities?

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theRobotpimp
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby theRobotpimp » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:54 pm

deegee22 wrote:I was planning on contacting them in the next couple weeks, before classes start. I have known all three of them for quite some time, as they are family friends. I guess what my question boils down to - in addition to any general advice you may have for one of these lunches - is would it be faux pas to ever ask about 1L summer employment opportunities?


As for whether or not it would be acceptable to broach the subject of 1L summer employment SOLELY on the level of the social etiquette of the situation, I don't think it would be faux pas to ask a broad question about 1L summer hiring practices at the firm. (FYI as state above, information about whether some firms hire 1L's can be found using the NALP Directory and Martindale).

HOWEVER, asking such a question (and perhaps even setting the meeting itself) appears to be a violation of NALP Guidelines. See Part V.D.2 of the "NALP Principles and Standards" which states:
"Prospective employers and first year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not interview or make offers to first year students before December 1."
Therefore, if you initiate contact with a potential employer before December 1st then you are in violation of this guideline (I also recommend reading relevant parts of the "Interpretations" section for a more in-depth understanding of what the 1L guidelines mean. You can find the Interpretations section here: http://www.nalp.org/interpretations#1Ls).

So what is the goal of the NALP in setting up these guidelines? "To promote fair and ethical practices for the interviewing and decision-making process, NALP offers the following standards for the timing of offers and decisions" (very beginning of Part V). So, would it be "fair and ethical" for you to broach this subject in your meeting? I think it is fairly obvious that it would be a violation of NALP Guidelines to discuss 1L summer employment as a first year student prior to December 1st. One may argue that because it is the summer and school has not begun, technically you are not a "first year student" yet, but that argument probably still violates the "ethical" portion of the rule.

However, regarding setting the meeting itself, it appears your question may delve into a gray area of the rule. You already have a relationship with these attorney's. If you meet up with them right before school, would you in fact be "initiating" contact? By definition, to "initiate" means: "to cause or facilitate the beginning of" (Merriam-Webster). On the one hand, by setting up a meeting with someone who you already know, you may not be "initiating" contact because the relationship is already established (therefore not the "beginning of"). On the other hand, perhaps you are in fact "initiating" because you are "causing or facilitating" the meeting itself ("contact") by requesting it.

This is a very interesting question because take for example a 1L and his father, the father being a partner at a big firm. Let's assume that the 1L intends to work at his father's firm next summer. This 1L will no doubt be in contact with his father during 1L fall, and that is technically a violation of NALP Guidelines because his father is a "prospective employer." So the question then becomes: Does the NALP intend for the 1L to not come into contact with his father for 5 months? Point being, perhaps the NALP does not wish to impact prior relationships such as yours (I don't know, because they don't get into it in the "Interpretations" section).

So that is my analysis. There is probably more to say about this and I would welcome others to do so. IMHO, I think it is pretty clear that you cannot bring up 1L summer employment in your meeting without violating the guidelines. Regarding setting up the meeting itself, however, I think that is open to interpretation.

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deegee22
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby deegee22 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:46 pm

I appreciate your responses, TRP, and I apologize for not thanking sooner (just finished a little vacation). It seems like my question turned out to be a lot more complex and controversial than I expected, however. The idea of meeting to have such a discussion was suggested by each of them when they learned I was planning to attend law school, which seems to further 'gray' the area dealing with "causing or facilitating" the meeting. I think what I will do is ask to speak with them individually, whether it be on the phone or in person, to talk about law school and a career in the legal profession in general. I'll also consciously avoid asking anything specifically regarding summer employment.

I appreciate your input on the matter, as I surely do not want to violate any principles/standards on an ethical basis.

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theRobotpimp
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby theRobotpimp » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:16 pm

deegee22 wrote:I appreciate your responses, TRP, and I apologize for not thanking sooner (just finished a little vacation). It seems like my question turned out to be a lot more complex and controversial than I expected, however. The idea of meeting to have such a discussion was suggested by each of them when they learned I was planning to attend law school, which seems to further 'gray' the area dealing with "causing or facilitating" the meeting. I think what I will do is ask to speak with them individually, whether it be on the phone or in person, to talk about law school and a career in the legal profession in general. I'll also consciously avoid asking anything specifically regarding summer employment.

I appreciate your input on the matter, as I surely do not want to violate any principles/standards on an ethical basis.


Happy to help and hope my response didn't scare you. Don't worry about your question being controversial (some of the best discussions are). I enjoyed delving into and exploring the gray area that it raised. :D

pookie
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby pookie » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:13 pm

tag!

Leo_Law
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby Leo_Law » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:14 pm

Tagged for later use. Thank you.

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Cade McNown
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby Cade McNown » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:09 pm

tag

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PinkCow
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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby PinkCow » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:19 pm

You're it.

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Re: A short guide to planning 1L summer

Postby smpark2 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:53 pm

tag




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