0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

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Birdnals
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0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby Birdnals » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:23 pm

I have been seeing a lot of people asking questions along this subject, and figured I would give my first-hand experience.

I’m currently clerking at a mid-sized (~50 attorneys) boutique firm, because I thought it would be a good way to spend the year I planned on taking between law school and UG, and wanted to make sure the realities of being an attorney was what I really wanted. While I am reassured that law is really what I am interested in, I am not so sure this was the best way to spend my year.

90% of my job consists of compiling/ copying things to be sent over to experts, hand deliveries for courtesy copies, and court runs to do general filing/ routine motions. Sure, there is a 10% where I am learning things (general research on Westlaw, proof reading docs, doc review assignments, billable work) but in all I don’t think I will have any advantage going into law school over somebody who waited tables in their year off.

Also, I am lucky and have a managing partner who makes sure I get some meaningful work/ get to sit in on depositions and closings and such. Without him, I could very well be doing nothing but coping, filling, and hand deliveries.

I’m not saying if you get the opportunity to work this kind of a job to not take it, I am just saying it is probably not going to be as intellectually valuable as you may think it will be. Looking back, I probably would have been better off keeping my bartending job, making more money, and having more fun. Either way, my specialty martini making skills will probably be more utilized in law school than any skills I may have gained clerking as an 0L.

AP-375
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Re: 0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby AP-375 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:48 pm

I'll present a different opinion just for the sake of discussion:
I spent a year working at a large office (130) of a regional firm, and I am really grateful that I did, especially now that I'm in law school. Yes, my job was extremely boring and menial (painfully so), but I still learned a ton, especially about law firm culture and legal careers. The most beneficial aspects of it were:
1) Learning how to fit in a law firm culture - WAAAY different from law school in my opinion, but since legal hiring is so much about FIT, this was really valuable: learning how to interact with partners, associates, and staff, how to conduct yourself in those potentially awkward elevator/breakroom conversations, or grabbing lunch with attorneys, etc.
2) Learning how to network: want to figure out how to ask for an informational interview? Best place to start is within your own firm. Once you get that figured out, working, or having worked at a firm can go a long way in making connections in your region - at least it gives you something to talk about beyond your generic undergrad/1L experiences.
3) Learning about law firms and the law. I talked to a ton of people in a ton of different departments. My firm had seminars on client service and firm finances, etc. I asked a lot of really stupid questions until the questions I asked weren't so stupid. I got a very good handle on how the firm business model works. I also had a good chance to figure out which law I'm most interested in, and that hasn't wavered through 1L year.
4) Advantage over other 1Ls. Look, a lot of people do this so it's no golden advantage, but it's still valuable to have had a lot of experience working 8-5 every day for months, and it goes a long way when competing with the K-JD kids, and it's helpful to have a real goal in mind that you can work towards.
I recommend it very highly.
-Sorry to dump a big contrary opinion on your thread. I feel your pain: my job was SOOOOOO boring. I listened to podcasts like 5 hours a day.

nugap2
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Re: 0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby nugap2 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:04 pm

I am going to have to side with AP-375, I recommend it highly as well.

BigLaw paralegal work for 2 years following undergrad. Excellent experience. Great people and generally interesting work. Learned a ton and would without a doubt do it again.

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Birdnals
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Re: 0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby Birdnals » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:08 pm

Not at all, a differing opinion is probably good; 2 sides of the same coin and all of that jazz.

I just think everything you mentioned you can gain at basically any job. Do I recommend a year+ off between UG and law school? Absolutely, spending some time living in the real world has a significant effect on maturation and growth I think will really be beneficial to me.

I just think you can gain all of the same basic skills while not doing mind-dulling office work, which is all you will be really doing as a legal clerk with no law school experience/education. How to network, office culture, and how a law firm works can all easily be learned by anybody without asbergers in a few days. If you really want to know that sort of thing, shadow an attorney for a few days. It will waste less of your time.

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ReelectClayDavis
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Re: 0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby ReelectClayDavis » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:19 pm

I was a V10 paralegal before going to law school. Though you're right about a lot of the work being not substantive and directly relevant to what you will do later, I disagree with your conclusion.

Some of the work was very relevant to my success in law school; I got to do a lot of bluebooking, and I think that was a big part of the reason that I did well in the write-on competition at my school. While working, I got to proofread some great legal writing, which gave me a better idea of how to write in our lawyering class.

Even if you didn't like paralegaling or get what I got out of it, I think there is a ton to be said for having a professional job before law school instead of just bartending. I had a lot of bad habits with organization and time management that didn't hurt me in school, but that did not make me look good in a collaborative working environment. I now know what to avoid doing as a summer associate, and it was good to learn those lessons before the summer where you're judged for a permanent offer.

And I second the other advantages of getting to work closely with lawyers, who are often, contrary to suspicions, nice and will have advice for you. I also suspect that folks who work in a firm before law school are less likely to hate biglaw after law school because they have a basis for comparison: however menial your work is as an associate, you know first-hand it can be even more boring and less lucrative as a paralegal!

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echamberlin8
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Re: 0L Clerking/Interning, probably not worth it

Postby echamberlin8 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:37 pm

ReelectClayDavis wrote:I was a V10 paralegal before going to law school. Though you're right about a lot of the work being not substantive and directly relevant to what you will do later, I disagree with your conclusion.

Some of the work was very relevant to my success in law school; I got to do a lot of bluebooking, and I think that was a big part of the reason that I did well in the write-on competition at my school. While working, I got to proofread some great legal writing, which gave me a better idea of how to write in our lawyering class.

Even if you didn't like paralegaling or get what I got out of it, I think there is a ton to be said for having a professional job before law school instead of just bartending. I had a lot of bad habits with organization and time management that didn't hurt me in school, but that did not make me look good in a collaborative working environment. I now know what to avoid doing as a summer associate, and it was good to learn those lessons before the summer where you're judged for a permanent offer.

And I second the other advantages of getting to work closely with lawyers, who are often, contrary to suspicions, nice and will have advice for you. I also suspect that folks who work in a firm before law school are less likely to hate biglaw after law school because they have a basis for comparison: however menial your work is as an associate, you know first-hand it can be even more boring and less lucrative as a paralegal!


I definitely agree with this. Currently working as a paralegal (technically a "project assistant") in a V25 firm in DC. I know a lot of other paralegals/project assistants who had aspirations of going to law school, but got burned out in their experiences at BigLaw from the staff side of things. However, I have worked a job before this, and I realize that even though this work is pretty boring and the hours are quite long, most jobs are like this, and at least BigLaw pays very well.

I think/hope that working as a paralegal will help with OCI too.




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