How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

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How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:07 am

I'm a 1L with an interest in transactional law considering going after an RA position for this summer. The vast majority of 1L positions seem like a 2 month long legal writing class, which sounds miserable. With in-house positions hard to come by, an RA position with a professor focused on corporate law seems like a good fit for someone interested in transactional law. In this situation, it obviously isn't a backup, at least not relative to judges/gov/PI, but will Big Law firms see it that way?

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:55 am

Since you're going corporate, a main advantage of a summer RA (getting a rec letter for a clerkship app) is not really applicable. I was told prior to OCI that being an RA, unless it's for a very, very well-known prof, suggests that you weren't able to get anything else (and maybe that you're a bad interviewer). I would avoid, especially since 1L summer is a great opportunity to improve your writing skills.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:Since you're going corporate, a main advantage of a summer RA (getting a rec letter for a clerkship app) is not really applicable. I was told prior to OCI that being an RA, unless it's for a very, very well-known prof, suggests that you weren't able to get anything else (and maybe that you're a bad interviewer). I would avoid, especially since 1L summer is a great opportunity to improve your writing skills.


Really? This isn't the info I got at all.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby c3pO4 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Since you're going corporate, a main advantage of a summer RA (getting a rec letter for a clerkship app) is not really applicable. I was told prior to OCI that being an RA, unless it's for a very, very well-known prof, suggests that you weren't able to get anything else (and maybe that you're a bad interviewer). I would avoid, especially since 1L summer is a great opportunity to improve your writing skills.


Really? This isn't the info I got at all.


All you need is a good GPA and something to talk about legal related. RA is just fine for biglaw....

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:Since you're going corporate, a main advantage of a summer RA (getting a rec letter for a clerkship app) is not really applicable. I was told prior to OCI that being an RA, unless it's for a very, very well-known prof, suggests that you weren't able to get anything else (and maybe that you're a bad interviewer). I would avoid, especially since 1L summer is a great opportunity to improve your writing skills.

Tell that to the guy I know going to CSM to do corporate who turned down multiple biglaw interviews for an RA gig as a 1L.

I personally wouldn't take an RA because I wanted to work as a 1L, but it will have little bearing on 2L OCI. Working a job may be a small bit better than RAing, but its negligible. If you have the credentials and personality to get biglaw, being an RA won't prevent you from doing that. And if you do it with the right professor, it might actually help more than working.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:55 am

I was an RA last summer and ended up with a V5 (and not due to spectacular grades--grades were top 25% at T14). I didn't feel like it was a liability.

I'd suggest choosing a professor who is working in a subject area that you could tie to your interest in transactional work, who plans on having you do something substantive for the summer (article that will be published, textbook) rather than random stuff like preparing talks for workshops or lesson plans. If you have a coherent reason for why you chose that prof and you can talk enthusiastically about something substantive you did, I don't think being an RA hurts at all.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby 03121202698008 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:00 am

c3pO4 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Since you're going corporate, a main advantage of a summer RA (getting a rec letter for a clerkship app) is not really applicable. I was told prior to OCI that being an RA, unless it's for a very, very well-known prof, suggests that you weren't able to get anything else (and maybe that you're a bad interviewer). I would avoid, especially since 1L summer is a great opportunity to improve your writing skills.


Really? This isn't the info I got at all.


All you need is a good GPA and something to talk about legal related. RA is just fine for biglaw....


This. Just make sure you have lots to talk about besides "I researched cases about X." Make sure you can talk about the topic, how your research/writing skills improved, etc.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:44 am

OP

I do have pre-LS corporate work experience that I think is relevant to transactional law, so I'm not an average 1L with nothing else to talk about other than my 1L job. In fact, I think the client service nature of my job plus experience with financial statements would be easier to sell to a transactional partner than most 1L jobs. However, I am at median (but obviously working on bringing that up). Not sure if either of those changes how an RA would be viewed.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:06 pm

You'll be fine. My one hesitation would be if you were a K-JD student, in which case I'd say the right move is getting some summer work experience. But that doesn't apply to you.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby 5ky » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:26 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:You'll be fine. My one hesitation would be if you were a K-JD student, in which case I'd say the right move is getting some summer work experience. But that doesn't apply to you.


I agree with the spirit of this, particularly because of this
Anonymous User wrote:OP

I do have pre-LS corporate work experience that I think is relevant to transactional law, so I'm not an average 1L with nothing else to talk about other than my 1L job. In fact, I think the client service nature of my job plus experience with financial statements would be easier to sell to a transactional partner than most 1L jobs. However, I am at median (but obviously working on bringing that up). Not sure if either of those changes how an RA would be viewed.


Being an RA is fine in all circumstances. It might hurt you slightly if you're K-JD, want to do transactional, and have no other experience in transactional matters. Your pre-LS work experience allays any minor concerns I would have. Go for it.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby adonai » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:42 pm

Do you really think RA will really matter for biglaw? Think about it logically. Top 10% with 1L RA summer will easily be preferable over a top ~25% w/ something prestigious like fed. COA just based on the numbers.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby 5ky » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:45 pm

adonai wrote:Do you really think RA will really matter for biglaw? Think about it logically. Top 10% with 1L RA summer will easily be preferable over a top ~25% w/ something prestigious like fed. COA just based on the numbers.


That's debatable and completely missing the point. The comparison is median + RA or median + something else.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby adonai » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:49 pm

5ky wrote:
adonai wrote:Do you really think RA will really matter for biglaw? Think about it logically. Top 10% with 1L RA summer will easily be preferable over a top ~25% w/ something prestigious like fed. COA just based on the numbers.


That's debatable and completely missing the point. The comparison is median + RA or median + something else.

I'm just saying grades are the most relevant thing, not the job. But you're right that when the measuring point is median against median (or other similar ranks v. similar ranks) it will probably make some sort of difference.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:50 pm

Yes, I also agree being an RA is always fine and won't sink your chances, but I do think having a more practical summer job that lets you say, for instance, "I now know I would like litigation for specific reasons X, Y and Z" is better, particularly for people with no work experience. Which would you feel better talking about in a job interview?

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:56 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Yes, I also agree being an RA is always fine and won't sink your chances, but I do think having a more practical summer job that lets you say, for instance, "I now know I would like litigation for specific reasons X, Y and Z" is better, particularly for people with no work experience. Which would you feel better talking about in a job interview?

I certainly think this is true, and I think being able to sell my interests in litigation (which were fostered during the summer) was nice. But I don't think it helped much at OCI, and certainly no one was impressed by my 1L work. RAs get to do some interesting research, and like I have said before, if you can get in with a good professor who will go to bat for you, that'll go a long way towards getting a job.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:25 pm

romothesavior wrote:if you can get in with a good professor who will go to bat for you, that'll go a long way towards getting a job.


How? I can see it with clerkships, but for jobs? Are professors really calling hiring partners trying to convince them to hire student X?

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
romothesavior wrote:if you can get in with a good professor who will go to bat for you, that'll go a long way towards getting a job.


How? I can see it with clerkships, but for jobs? Are professors really calling hiring partners trying to convince them to hire student X?


The professor I RA'ed for called a handful of recruiting coordinators on my behalf, post-screener, pre-callback. Probably not as worthwhile as talking to a hiring partner, but enough that I think it helped.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:36 pm

romothesavior wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Yes, I also agree being an RA is always fine and won't sink your chances, but I do think having a more practical summer job that lets you say, for instance, "I now know I would like litigation for specific reasons X, Y and Z" is better, particularly for people with no work experience. Which would you feel better talking about in a job interview?

I certainly think this is true, and I think being able to sell my interests in litigation (which were fostered during the summer) was nice. But I don't think it helped much at OCI, and certainly no one was impressed by my 1L work. RAs get to do some interesting research, and like I have said before, if you can get in with a good professor who will go to bat for you, that'll go a long way towards getting a job.


Yes. I think being able to tell a story and sell an interest is very important. I am actually doing an RA so I can show my interest in corporate work. The person is a big time professor in certain corporate areas, has written several books and is invited to all the conferences, etc. Since it is hard to get a job over the summer that actually shows you have an interest in corporate work (e.g. BigLaw does not hire many 1Ls), I am very excited for my opportunity over the upcoming summer.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:14 pm

OP here, thanks for all the replies.

In response to a few of the points brought up, I'm firmly set on transactional, or at least much as a 1L can be. I tried to come into LS with an open mind, but after one and a half semesters of legal writing and after hearing from big law attorneys at networking events, I don't think litigation is a good fit.

My pre-LS experience is also heavily related to transactional, so I would imagine firms would prefer I go that direction (and really it's all about getting a job anyway). My pitch at OCI would be something to the effect of I wanted corporate experience and 90% of the common 1L options seemed litigation focused, I already have years of real-world work experience, etc. and I think that is reasonable. I just hope hiring partners see it that way.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby romothesavior » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
romothesavior wrote:if you can get in with a good professor who will go to bat for you, that'll go a long way towards getting a job.


How? I can see it with clerkships, but for jobs? Are professors really calling hiring partners trying to convince them to hire student X?

Professors are friends with many lawyers in the community. Hell, they may have even taught a lot of biglaw partners in the community. Depends a lot on the prof, but I've seen profs go out of their way to put in calls, set up lunches, etc. with important partners at area firms.

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Re: How is a 1L RA summer position viewed by Big Law?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, thanks for all the replies.

In response to a few of the points brought up, I'm firmly set on transactional, or at least much as a 1L can be. I tried to come into LS with an open mind, but after one and a half semesters of legal writing and after hearing from big law attorneys at networking events, I don't think litigation is a good fit.

My pre-LS experience is also heavily related to transactional, so I would imagine firms would prefer I go that direction (and really it's all about getting a job anyway). My pitch at OCI would be something to the effect of I wanted corporate experience and 90% of the common 1L options seemed litigation focused, I already have years of real-world work experience, etc. and I think that is reasonable. I just hope hiring partners see it that way.

Just wanted to chime back in and agree that this is a good pitch and I think you will be in fine shape for OCI as far as your 1L job goes.




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