1L Summer Internship Location.... Important?

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Anonymous User
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1L Summer Internship Location.... Important?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:53 am

I'm a 1L who is from a non-major legal market. Think Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis, etc. I'm at a lower ranked T14 (not in the NYC market). My resume screams my hometown. Undergrad, jobs during school, brief work experience after school, are ALL from that hometown. Now I've gotten a summer job offer -- in my hometown. I sent out tons of applications to NYC area judges and public interest organizations to no avail.

The thing is, I do NOT want to permanently live/work in my hometown. I really want to get out and break in to the NYC market. I'm already fighting an uphill battle because my resume screams BFE. I'm concerned that this summer internship in my hometown will be the nail in my career coffin. Will I be doomed during 2L OCI if targeting only NYC? Will I be forever doomed to a life in my hometown?

Thanks for the insight.

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Chichaca
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Re: 1L Summer Internship Location.... Important?

Postby Chichaca » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:23 am

I'm in kind of a similar situation, except my resume screams one coast, my law school is on that same coast, and I want to end up on the other one. I talked to my school's career office about it (actually the public interest office, since I want to do PI, but I think this is still probably applicable). She said it was crucial for me to get a 1L internship in my legal market of choice.

The problem, according to her, is that employers are looking for people who want to stay in that job long term, since they aren't getting a whole lot out of you those first couple years. You're an investment. The investment doesn't pan out if you realize after a few years that NYC or wherever isn't really where you wanted to be.

Of course, I've heard of lots of people who have never lived in NYC and end up with a big law job there. But those are mostly people who at the very least have lived in a variety of locations, even if none of them were NYC. In your situation, I'd be concerned about the resume screaming one particular location.

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vanwinkle
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Re: 1L Summer Internship Location.... Important?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:37 pm

Based on my experience, it matters for two reasons:

1) Existing ties make it more likely you'll fit in there/like the area/want to stay long-term. As mentioned, you're an investment. Someone who can talk about how much they've already enjoyed living there wins over someone who has never really lived there before.

2) How much of an explanation you have. If you really want to live in X, why did you intern in Y last summer? Etc.

For BigLaw in NYC these are both far easier to overcome. There's kind of a natural presumption there that people would want to live there even if they've never lived there before. After all, it's the financial hub of the world, features the main offices of the most prestigious law firms, and handles an array of the most cutting-edge issues for the largest corporate clients. Lawyers there really assume you'd want to be there as the best place to practice law. That takes care of #1. #2 I think is handled by explaining that you went back home because you only found unpaid internships and staying with your family was more affordable. For OP, going home for 1L and then targeting NYC exclusively at OCI will likely work out as long as they pick the right type of firms for their grades and experience. You're at a T14, NYC firms will recognize the value of your degree as long as your grades were in range, and you just tell them all the stuff about wanting to work in NYC because of how great a city it is to practice law in.

However, the second poster wants PI. I think what matters there can vary by field; for 1L it may be more important to do an internship in your desired field than in a desired city. Then during 2L you can try to use that experience to seek internships in a city you'd prefer, saying you enjoy the field but would rather not live where you're from when you graduate.

2L PI internships are typically unpaid and generally not directly linked to any sort of job offer on graduation, so the organizations are far less worried about whether you're committed to living there after you graduate. You're not there as a trial run for a job offer, you're there to gain experience and to provide them free assistance that's often badly needed. They'll want you to be 1) the most competent person they can get and 2) actually passionate about that kind of work. If you can show you have both, and especially in that field, you can get internships in a number of different cities.

What you should really be doing if you want PI is interning as much as possible. Show your true PI dedication, and show it in different markets if possible. I've done PI work, all of which I can characterize as showing an interest in either criminal law or civil rights work, in five different cities now. I volunteered with PI orgs (some of which worked with a student org or a clinic) during the school year; I volunteered at PI orgs for a few weeks over winter break; I went to a different city and volunteered at a PI org there during spring break. What was common wasn't where I was working but what I was doing. I'm at a point now that I can really sell myself as passionate enough about what I'm doing to want to do it anywhere.

If it's too late to do any of that this school year, it's not too late to do it next year. And the 2L PI internship hunt runs all year long so your winter break and spring break could matter. But it starts with working in your desired field, or at least doing PI, and if you have to do that in your hometown for 1L, so be it. That's harder for you to find stuff outside your hometown later, but it's far from impossible.

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Veyron
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Re: 1L Summer Internship Location.... Important?

Postby Veyron » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:44 pm

Mostly - yes.

Targeting NYC - HELLS NO




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