RAing w/ limited WE

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sillyboots
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RAing w/ limited WE

Postby sillyboots » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:40 pm

Let me preface this by saying the forum search function keeps failing for me tonight for some reason. Admittedly, I wanted some tailored advice anyway.

I really want to do an RA position this summer but am concerned. My work experience has been negligible (random school-related part-time work in undergrad and a few months of permanent employment that ended due to external circumstances) and I'm worried that logging in 10-20 hours a week as an RA will add to the impression. Also, although the most prevailing (but still controversial, I realize) attitude seems to be that outside of biglaw or a sick judicial internship, what you do 1L summer doesn't make that big of a difference, being an RA appears to be a "backup" job for many people if they don't get accepted anywhere else. I guess what I'm ultimately asking is whether doing an RA is going to make me look bad.

FWIW top 10% T25, with a median grade in legal research/writing (this also has been influencing my choice. With a relatively crap LR grade not sure my prospects elsewhere will improve).

TYIA!

timbs4339
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby timbs4339 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:21 am

No, it won't hurt your biglaw chances if you have the grades/school, but you should exhaust other options before you do this just in case OCI doesn't work out. I was K-JD with retail jobs on my resume and I RA'd as a 1L. When I struck out at OCI I started looking for other jobs. I interviewed at the DAs office and was told "look, why should I hire you for this job when you RA'd last summer and so many other people worked at DAs offices 1L summer." I didn't have a good answer and in retrospect she'd read me pretty well, I actually had no interest in being a prosecutor.

For 1L jobs you should consider 1) what does the job pay, 2) is there a chance of an offer to come back next summer and could that lead to a full time offer, 3) is it the type of work that I could spin to other kinds of employers if OCI doesn't work out, and finally 4) will this help/hurt my OCI chances. So obviously, firm jobs pay very well, might lead to 2L offers, and will help your chances at OCI. Government jobs probably don't pay and might not even lead to a 2L offer, but they provide you a leg up in searching for other government jobs if you strike out at OCI. With RA jobs, if you strike out at OCI, you can't go back to a RA job 2L summer without really hurting your career, and it may not help you get jobs at DA/PD offices or PI orgs like working in one of those places as a 1L would.

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ben4847
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby ben4847 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:27 am

Career services advised me strongly not to RA during 1L summer since I had extensive academic experience and little work experience. This was even though I had excellent school/grades for employment. I did in-house counsel and it was much better anyway.

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:29 am

The point of the summer job is to get something to talk about during 2L OCI. If you work at a firm or for a judge, at least you can get exposed to different lawyers and what they do. If you work for a prof, your exposure's more limited and it may be harder to sell why you want a particular job. It kinda depends on what work your prof gives you, I think. FWIW I RA'ed and I don't think it helped me much at all. Would do something else if I could go back and do it again.

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patrickd139
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby patrickd139 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:31 am

Didn't read the responses ITT, but the only person who landed a biglaw job on the merits from my law school was an RA and took classes her first summer. What you do your first summer barely matters, unless you land a SA.

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YourCaptain
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby YourCaptain » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:33 am

patrickd139 wrote:Didn't read the responses ITT, but the only person who landed a biglaw job on the merits from my law school was an RA and took classes her first summer. What you do your first summer barely matters, unless you land a SA.


thats nice.

in general biglaw doesnt like RA positions. theres still time and no one will care about your LR grade. apply now

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:42 am

a big sidetracking...

someone from my T25-30 landed a small firm job despite the fact that all she did was Ra'ing for a professor throughout law school. no non-profit gig, no firm gig, no judicial internship

the professor previously worked with the two partners of the small firm. it's a 4 person firm anyway.

by the way, if all a student got is a RA'ship with a professor, doesn't it say something about his or her work ethic, motivation ... etc?

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Detrox
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Detrox » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:55 am

I disagree a fair amount with the trend of the opinion in this thread. I actively sought to RA my 1L summer, highly enjoyed it, had a great deal to talk about in OCI and I believe most interviewers reacted positively to my enthusiasm about RAing. Had multiple V20 offers, as a K-JD with very little WE as well.

I think it's what you make of it. If you can find professors for whom you can do interesting research, learn some new law beyond what you had in your classes, and produce some well made memos, I think RA'ing can be a great asset to have as both a resume line as well as a way to connect with a professor for future LoR's/references. My $.02.

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:04 am

I think RA is fine. But you should look for some part-time non-profit, law related gig - if anything, it will enrich your summer experience.
Even if it's remote work with some human rights agency....

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:28 pm

Does anybody know if its usually possible to be a research assistant for two professors, or be a research assistant in addition to something like a judicial externship in the same area as your school? Is it just a lot of work or is it actually prohibited?

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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:58 pm

Do some people's negative views towards an RA position change if it is full-time (40 hours a week) with a big name professor who has influence and can give you relevant knowledge and experience in the field you ultimately want to work in (here: corporate)?

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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do some people's negative views towards an RA position change if it is full-time (40 hours a week) with a big name professor who has influence and can give you relevant knowledge and experience in the field you ultimately want to work in (here: corporate)?


I think this definitely makes a difference. I was an RA for a big name professor known for teaching a hard class. At OCI people saw his name on my resume and were impressed. It also made for a good talking point in the interview because most of the interviewers at OCI were alum who knew of the professor.

LawIdiot86
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby LawIdiot86 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do some people's negative views towards an RA position change if it is full-time (40 hours a week) with a big name professor who has influence and can give you relevant knowledge and experience in the field you ultimately want to work in (here: corporate)?


No, my friends at my T14 who did fulltime 1L summer RAs are universally unemployed at going into the end of 3L. This includes those who worked with the top full-time professors at the school who have given them glowing LORs and even made phone calls for them. It just seems to be a signal that you couldn't get work from someone who you weren't paying a shiton of money to already.

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:44 pm

this is fairly strange.
T14 and well-connected professors.

the anecdote above: the professor is not even a top one and he managed to get a shitlaw job for a below-average T25 grad

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sundance95
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby sundance95 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:29 am

Detrox wrote:I disagree a fair amount with the trend of the opinion in this thread. I actively sought to RA my 1L summer, highly enjoyed it, had a great deal to talk about in OCI and I believe most interviewers reacted positively to my enthusiasm about RAing. Had multiple V20 offers, as a K-JD with very little WE as well.

I think it's what you make of it. If you can find professors for whom you can do interesting research, learn some new law beyond what you had in your classes, and produce some well made memos, I think RA'ing can be a great asset to have as both a resume line as well as a way to connect with a professor for future LoR's/references. My $.02.

I think you are probably right-people lose sight of the fact that it all really comes down to grades and school ranking. If you got a V20 then you also had the grades/school to get that offer. Much of the anti-RA bias is based on the fact that it is often a fallback, and thus others see students who RA'd struggling to find a job and conclude that it was because they RA'd.

Anonymous User
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:55 pm

I was an RA and got multiple biglaw offers, even though my pre-LS work exp was very unimpressive and screamed lazy slacker. I don't think the RA position hurt me, although my LS creds were very good, and maybe it would have been a different story if I was around median.

I think the bottom line is that if you have the grades and school to get offers, the RA position will not hurt you.

If you do become an RA, make sure you are able to talk intelligently about your research.

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Detrox
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby Detrox » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:24 pm

Sundance's post seems pretty accurate.

The last bit I will add is that the RA position should be viewed more positively if your goals include more than biglaw, such as academia or just clerkships. RA'ing will help you get close to legal academics, see what the life is like, and help you figure out if it's something you really want to do etc. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, it will help to solidify powerful recommenders who may be key in the clerkship application process.

Other than that, I think OP should have his answer with all the info in this thread.

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romothesavior
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Re: RAing w/ limited WE

Postby romothesavior » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:41 pm

sundance95 wrote:
Detrox wrote:I disagree a fair amount with the trend of the opinion in this thread. I actively sought to RA my 1L summer, highly enjoyed it, had a great deal to talk about in OCI and I believe most interviewers reacted positively to my enthusiasm about RAing. Had multiple V20 offers, as a K-JD with very little WE as well.

I think it's what you make of it. If you can find professors for whom you can do interesting research, learn some new law beyond what you had in your classes, and produce some well made memos, I think RA'ing can be a great asset to have as both a resume line as well as a way to connect with a professor for future LoR's/references. My $.02.

I think you are probably right-people lose sight of the fact that it all really comes down to grades and school ranking. If you got a V20 then you also had the grades/school to get that offer. Much of the anti-RA bias is based on the fact that it is often a fallback, and thus others see students who RA'd struggling to find a job and conclude that it was because they RA'd.

Two of my friends RA'd. One is going to Cravath, the other one transferred to Harvard. Both turned down multiple 1L SA interviews for their RA gig. I know a number of others with top grades, Law Review, firm jobs, etc. who also RA'd. Maybe you are right about the perception of RAs at other schools, but it doesn't seem to hold true at mine.

OP, it won't hurt you. Sundance is right that it really comes down to grades and school for job offers at 2L OCI. I'd probably prefer an actual job over RAing from a personal standpoint, but the OCI impact will be negligible.




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