How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

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JustSomebody
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:33 am

How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby JustSomebody » Mon May 23, 2011 11:41 am

I'm not a law student or graduate, so I realize this may not be the right forum to ask this question, but I didn't know where else to ask it.

I just graduated from my undergrad institution and I am taking year off before going to law school. I desperately am trying to find some kind of work in the legal field, but am not having much luck. I sent my resume and cover letter to a couple local law firms, but only one of them replied and the guy said that it is too late for this summer because they already have an intern who is returning for his second summer. And he added that I have a "very impressive resume" (which is surprising to me... maybe he was just being polite) so I should have no trouble landing a spot. Except I definitely am having trouble finding a spot.

I'd be willing to just volunteer at a law firm this summer, and work on finding some kind of paid job for the fall in the meantime. I've tried searching online for internship positions at law firms but I can't find anything. How do you land one of these positions? Do you just have to basically cold call law firms in the area and hope one of them has something?

I've researched office assistant and administrative positions at law firms, but all of them seem to require 3-5 years of experience already, which I obviously don't have. I'm getting very frustrated because even though I need to spend this summer studying for the LSAT, I also would very much like to gain some kind of experience working in the legal field.
Last edited by JustSomebody on Mon May 23, 2011 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Aberzombie1892
Posts: 1907
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:56 am

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon May 23, 2011 11:43 am

Try being a volunteer for a public interest law firm.

I know the Orleans Public Defenders takes non-law school interns.

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The Gentleman
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Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby The Gentleman » Mon May 23, 2011 11:50 am

Do you have any relatives or family friends who are attorneys? In my experience, file clerks at smaller firms are almost always hired because they knew somebody.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby BeenDidThat » Mon May 23, 2011 11:52 am

Aberzombie1892 wrote:Try being a volunteer for a public interest law firm.

I know the Orleans Public Defenders takes non-law school interns.


TITCR

While law firm experience would be great (and paying!), there are plenty of legal nonprofits that would gladly accept volunteers. I know lots of people in undergrad and beyond who volunteered for groups like the SPLC, the ACLU, domestic violence groups, etc. While the work isn't quite as legal as, say, paralegaling in a law firm, it would give you exposure to the legal process, something to talk about in a personal statement, and good material for interviews for legal jobs once you're in law school.

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A'nold
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Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby A'nold » Mon May 23, 2011 12:02 pm

See, here is the downside to taking a year off that many "take a year off" advocates do not recognize or realize (probably b/c mommy and daddy would pay their way to Europe to "soul search" for 6 months).

Regardless: I know you want to work in the legal field, but there is really nothing you are going to use from your experience in law school. Go to a temp agency for any job and turn that into a full time position for the year.

JustSomebody
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:33 am

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby JustSomebody » Mon May 23, 2011 12:07 pm

The Gentleman wrote:Do you have any relatives or family friends who are attorneys?


Nope, which makes this all the more difficult for me.

BeenDidThat wrote:I know lots of people in undergrad and beyond who volunteered for groups like the SPLC, the ACLU, domestic violence groups, etc.


I put my name on the volunteer registry for the ACLU awhile ago, but so far all they've done is e-mail me asking me to sign pledges and petitions and such. How do I actually get to volunteering in their offices? I'm planning on going to their upcoming volunteer night, but I don't know how much good it will do. The ACLU in my area says they won't be engaging any undergrad or recent grad internships this summer. :/

And I've applied to some jobs through temp agencies, but so far haven't heard anything back. Of course.

BeenDidThat
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Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby BeenDidThat » Mon May 23, 2011 12:14 pm

JustSomebody wrote:
The Gentleman wrote:Do you have any relatives or family friends who are attorneys?


Nope, which makes this all the more difficult for me.

BeenDidThat wrote:I know lots of people in undergrad and beyond who volunteered for groups like the SPLC, the ACLU, domestic violence groups, etc.


I put my name on the volunteer registry for the ACLU awhile ago, but so far all they've done is e-mail me asking me to sign pledges and petitions and such. How do I actually get to volunteering in their offices? I'm planning on going to their upcoming volunteer night, but I don't know how much good it will do. The ACLU in my area says they won't be engaging any undergrad or recent grad internships this summer. :/

And I've applied to some jobs through temp agencies, but so far haven't heard anything back. Of course.


That's rough re: the ACLU in your area. I know those groups where I was were always starved for volunteers. Though they really may not be interested in folks right now, other groups might be. I avoid generalized registries like the plague because no one likes to check those things. Try to find real contact info, if you can. It might be hard to find a phone # because they want to avoid crazies, but perhaps an email address would work.

Also, in your inquiry, I'd include language, or if it's a phone call, ask about, re: other organizations that might need interns. The public interest groups tend to know about each other, and they tend to want to help people looking to volunteer. At least that was my experience. If you can get in touch with someone and express a sincere interest in legal work and whatever the group does, I'd wager that they can get you in touch with somebody seeking volunteers.

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gwuorbust
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Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby gwuorbust » Mon May 23, 2011 1:10 pm

You should apply to a large number of solo and small law firms in your area saying you are inquiring to do office support work. This could include drafting letters, filing, etc. Basically, paralegal shit. Send me a PM of what geographic area you are looking for and I can find you some lists.

splitmuch
Posts: 968
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby splitmuch » Mon May 23, 2011 1:19 pm

JustSomebody wrote:I'm not a law student or graduate, so I realize this may not be the right forum to ask this question, but I didn't know where else to ask it.

I just graduated from my undergrad institution and I am taking year off before going to law school. I desperately am trying to find some kind of work in the legal field, but am not having much luck. I sent my resume and cover letter to a couple local law firms, but only one of them replied and the guy said that it is too late for this summer because they already have an intern who is returning for his second summer. And he added that I have a "very impressive resume" (which is surprising to me... maybe he was just being polite) so I should have no trouble landing a spot. Except I definitely am having trouble finding a spot.

I'd be willing to just volunteer at a law firm this summer, and work on finding some kind of paid job for the fall in the meantime. I've tried searching online for internship positions at law firms but I can't find anything. How do you land one of these positions? Do you just have to basically cold call law firms in the area and hope one of them has something?

I've researched office assistant and administrative positions at law firms, but all of them seem to require 3-5 years of experience already, which I obviously don't have. I'm getting very frustrated because even though I need to spend this summer studying for the LSAT, I also would very much like to gain some kind of experience working in the legal field.



Seriously, craigslist.

I graduated in may 2010, dicked around for a few months, got on craigslist and found a paralegal job in october, and the WE was good enough to get me in NW.

Green Crayons
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:08 pm

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby Green Crayons » Wed May 25, 2011 7:19 am

Don't confine yourself only to solo or small firms. They aren't necessarily hiring, even if the economy is on the rebound. Medium/large firms are also possible employers who should not be ignored.

Do a Google search or whatever and look up all the firms in the city where you want to work. There should be a lot, unless if you live in BFE. For each firm, find their employment opportunities page and follow the directions (you'll be looking for "Staff," not their Attorneys/Summers page) or contact their HR Department and make yourself known as a employee candidate. You want to apply for a staff position, which may include being a paralegal (would require additional training and without experience you may be passed over -- also, the fact that you will only be with them for a year will probably dissuade a firm from hiring you as a paralegal), a practice assistant, an office/records clerk, a secretary/receptionist, or a courier. These are all non-attorney positions within a medium-sized law firm that semi-frequently open up.

The main goal is to get your foot in the door. From my (limited) experience, firms like to pull from their employee pool when filling in staff positions. Thus, even though your exposure to the legal world is limited (e.g. being a courier), if you're good at your job, show initiative, aren't horrible to work with, you can position yourself to step in when a spot opens up closer to the legal action.

You only have a year to work with, so once your foot is in the door an opportunity may not arise in time for you to be moved around. Alternatively, if the firm knows that you're only going to be around for a year, they may not bother to train you in a new position the closer your leave date looms. So, regardless of whatever it is that you're able to do in a firm, make a point of taking initiative to expose yourself to as much legal action as possible. Once you learn the ropes of whatever job it is you're supposed to be doing, determine what else you can do that will allow you to at least observe what being an attorney is like.


Go for a paid job first. They do exist. Send individualized cover letters to all the firms you can find. Actually talk to people, even if just over the phone. For the smaller firms - those without HR departments - show up in person with a cover letter and resume to hand over and a reason why they should hire you. Only when you've hit all of the firms that you can find, which should be a lot, start back at the top of the list and apply for an unpaid internship.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273147
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How can I find a summer or even year-long job at a law firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 25, 2011 7:27 am

CRAIGSLIST. I got on there last summer and have been working as a legal assistant since then, which is essentially an entry-level job.




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