1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

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1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:37 am

I have a decision that I have to make in the next few days regarding 1L summer positions and I keep getting conflicting answers from the different people that I ask (I've literally called 8 different career services offices (most of them dont ask if youre a student) and spoken to advisors at each). Question = How much does the perceived competitiveness/prestige of 1L summer employment matter come 2L OCI?

Now obviously grades/school are the most important, but, beyond that, how much does it help? Some people say that it does make a difference, and they do make sense. Think about it: if two people have pre-law school investment banking experience, all else being equal, who's going to get the job: the guy who worked at a small-operation joint or the guy from Goldman?

Other people say, "as long as it's legal, it doesn't make a shred of difference."

Which one is it? For example, grades/school being identical, the guy who spent the summer at, say, DOJ is going to be more appealing than the guy who worked at the local public defender's office, no?

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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:59 am

As long as it's legal, it doesn't make a difference.*

*In most cases, for standard 2L hiring practices amongst different employers.

That asterisk is pretty key. I worked at a 'prestigious' law firm firm my 1L summer, and I guarantee you it didn't significantly impact my success looking for jobs as a 2L. Comparing my success to my peers among the 20-40 cases where I knew people's stats pretty well, a common trend emerged. The following things mattered, a lot:

1) 1L GPA / making law review
2) Prior work experience, particularly when relevant (patent work, congressional work, finance, etc.) but also just a 'maturity' boost and occasionally for establishing geographic ties
3) Personality / maturity (though in 8/10 cases I think this was a proxy for pre-LS experience. For the most part being charming wasn't enough on its own/)
4) Diversity / x-factor (a catch-all category for intangibles: language skills, diversity, personal connections to the firm, etc.)

What people did as a 1L just didn't correlate to their job hunting prospects. Some people with "crappy" 1L summer work (RAing for random professors) got stellar jobs because they have the above factors pointing in their direction, some people with "baller" 1L summer work (big firm gigs, DOJ level govt work) got shut out because they didn't have the above factors working for them. Most people were somewhere in-between.

Hopefully that's enough to convince you that you shouldn't think about your 1L summer in terms of what doors it can open for you when it comes time to do OCI or look for a full time job. But that's not the entire story. Your 1L summer is probably a throw away experience for recruiting 'as long as it's legal' - but it's still a big opportunity FOR YOU. It's a great way to get exposure to a practice are you're interested and work on your speech for recruiting. It's very compelling to be able to say during an interview "I thought I wanted to do X, but obviously wasn't exposed to it during 1L. I'm glad I worked for Y during my summer because it helped confirm my interest in X, which is why I am applying to your firm." It's probably just as compelling to say "I thought I wanted to do X, but after doing it every day at Y during my summer I think I'd rather do Z, which is why I'm applying to your firm."

So it can really help your pitch, but more importantly it can help you figure out your desires. You can be a litigator after working for a professor 1L summer, but if you work for a judge, or a DA's office, or even a PD's office, you'll be on much sounder footing yourself.

Another important caveat, and the reason I said 'amongst different employers' above, is that for some people 1L summer can = full time employment. I actually know people who beat the bushes enough to get a 1L summer big firm gig in a small / hometown market, then struck out during 2L OCI, and are now returning to that market. It's great pay and jobs the people like, so for them 1L summer may literally have made the difference between a 6 figure salary and unemployment or underemployment at graduation. Not everyone can do that even if they want to, but it's a very real factor.

Finally for some career trajectories it really does matter. When people say it doesn't, they're almost always speaking from the point of view of a law student hoping to land a large firm job via 2L OCI. If you're not looking for that path, your 1L summer is going to play a big role in developing your network and branching out. For those interested in public interest, being an RA as a 1L will hurt since employers are going to be looking for a strong commitment to PI and it's (comparatively) simple to land a PI job over the summer. For those looking to get into a smaller legal field, 1L summer can be the time to start building the connections and nursing the network to make it happen.

I split my 1L summer between a judge and a firm that did non-litigation work, and it was wonderful. It really helped me think about those two career paths, and gave me an opportunity to watch and interact with attorneys in both "camps." It was stressful to split, but I think something like that, if you could swing it, would be great for somebody on the fence. In terms of substantive work, I think the people I know who worked for judges (myself included) came out on top. It's likely that working for a judge you'll spend a lot of time researching and writing to help resolve cases (whether by drafting opinions or writing bench memos).

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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:16 am

So if you land one of the very rare big firm jobs in a major legal market, that doesn't help you in 2L?

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drdolittle
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby drdolittle » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:44 am

I'm not OP, but thank you for an awesome answer to this common question, Anonymous User #2.

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dood
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby dood » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:53 am

lol @ calling 8 career offices.

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Always Credited
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Always Credited » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:02 am

lol @ career offices

FiveSermon
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby FiveSermon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:04 am

So even for 2L employment, only 1L grades matter?

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dood
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby dood » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:09 am

FiveSermon wrote:So even for 2L employment, only 1L grades matter?


where have u been? 1L grades are the only thing that matters...for all future legal employment.

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drdolittle
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby drdolittle » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:10 am

dood wrote:lol @ calling 8 career offices.

Maybe I should try cold calling career offices too. I'll start with only 4: YHSD. D for Davis.

FiveSermon
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby FiveSermon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:12 am

dood wrote:
FiveSermon wrote:So even for 2L employment, only 1L grades matter?


where have u been? 1L grades are the only thing that matters...for all future legal employment.


Well I'm a 0L so just browsing here and there for some info. Thanks.

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fatduck
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby fatduck » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:13 am

dood wrote:lol @ calling 8 career offices.

never have i wanted more to know the identity of an anonymous poster

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dood
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby dood » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:29 am

fatduck wrote:
dood wrote:lol @ calling 8 career offices.

never have i wanted more to know the identity of an anonymous poster


lol. tbf, its kinda smart. i mean i looked on some other law school career office websites for sample resumes, etc....just never got enough balls to actually call them. but now i think about it, OP is right, they always assume you're a law student.

Magnificent
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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Magnificent » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:So if you land one of the very rare big firm jobs in a major legal market, that doesn't help you in 2L?


don't listen to the previous poster they don't know what they're talking about

if you land a 1L SA position at a big firm (i.e. v100) then your all but guaranteed big law for 2L summer as long as you don't screw up 2nd semester 1L year or the summer while your at the firm.

since 1L SA positions are so difficult to get in comparison to 2L SA positions, then it follows that almost everyone whose good enough to get one 1L year gets it 2L year

just don't screw up

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Re: 1L Summer: How much does prestige/competitiveness matter??

Postby Wholigan » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:49 am

Magnificent wrote:if you land a 1L SA position at a big firm (i.e. v100) then your you're all but guaranteed big law for 2L summer as long as you don't screw up 2nd semester 1L year or the summer while your at the firm.

since 1L SA positions are so difficult to do in comparison to 2L SA positions, then it follows that almost everyone whose who's good enough to get one 1L year gets it 2L year


Since walking on your hands from New York to DC is more difficult to do in comparison to getting 2L SA positions, then it follows that almost everyone who's good enough to walk on their hands from New York to DC gets a good job 2L summer.

Also, since knowing the difference between your/you're and who's/whose is more difficult than making legal hiring conclusions, then it follows that almost everyone who's good enough to know the difference... well, draw your own conclusion on that one.




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