Lawquacious wrote:I see no way a mid-size firm looks better than Federal COA internship on a resume. In fact, I really see no way that they are really even close. Federal COA internships are about the most pretigious internship you can get while in law school as far as I know.
Judicial internships aren't prestigious, period. It's not a meritocratic market the way post-graduate, full-time, compensated clerkships are. Only a tiny fraction of CoA judges even hire interns, and those that do aren't sifting for the greatest legal minds in generations to fill their spots and shower with gems of wisdom. They're just willing to take on summer interns, like every other judge, and will probably shove them in a back room and let them do grunt work for the real clerks.
Many judges basically never interact with their interns, many judges have policies of not hiring former interns as clerks, and many CoA judges don't hear arguments / do exciting things over the summer (which would dampen the experience). If you get a rec, there is a very strong change it'll either be a form letter from your judge (who may actually not write recs for anyone, a fairly common judicial policy) or will be coming from a clerk, who will not exactly be battering down the gates of various employers.
Judicial internships vary wildly in practice, but they are _NOT_ prestigious in a way likely to be relevant for later job hunting, much less outweigh $$$ + employment prospects. Employers hiring for 2L summer or fulltime employment know this game better than we do, they know that getting a 1L CoA internship is not a major flag of quality / competition / endorsement the way the same job as a post-graduation clerkship would be.
And sure, some firms that hire 1Ls are small, have unpredictable hiring, and may or may not give full time offers. At least as many, if not more, hire 1Ls because they don't have the infrastructure or pull to compete with 2L OCI and major firms - but still intend to make offers (to return for part of 2L summer or fulltime) to the 1L summers they do hire.
The firm job wins, and it wins by a landslide.
Everyone knows that clerkships for judges are prestigious, but law students don't realize that over 1L summer it doesn't carry nearly the same weight. My personal experience with OCI coupled with the OCI experience of those I know backup irrefutably that what you do 1L summer is all but meaningless when compared with factors like prior work experience, geographic preference, grades, and school rank/reputation.
A firm job as a 1L changes everything
- it can be fulltime employment, the ultimate ace-up-the-sleeve, and also provides money (and some training and insight on the business of the law) unavailable to the overwhelming majority of 1Ls.
A CoA internship xould be a great experience, but it's not going to turn the heads of most hiring partners. Obviously many people who land them, given how few there are and how selective such a judge could be, will probably have resumes festooned with OTHER credentials that will turn employer's heads - but don't let correlation be confused with causation.
TL;DR what you do for your 1L summer doesn't matter, so get paid and have an option of a full time offer when you have the chance.