I was no-offered my 2L summer and ended up landing on my feet. Here's my story; I hope it might provide some kind of solace/inspiration/whatever for those of you who are about to get slapped with a no-offer.
The first thing to keep in mind is that they don't want to no-offer you. Unless there was some kind of crazy incident that made no-offering you a no-brainer, it's going to feel like shit for them too. What that means is that they might drag it out like crazy. My summer associateship finished in early August, and it wasn't until mid-October that I finally got word that I wasn't going to be getting an offer. Which means that while I was sitting around hoping for an offer, I missed 3L OCI. Granted 3L OCI sucks, but it's better than nothing and people do get jobs that way, so if you're still in offer limbo, YOU NEED TO BE PARTICIPATING IN 3L OCI. Do not limit your options just because you're sitting around waiting for good news.
My performance reviews were all good, I was (to the best of my knowledge) well-liked at the firm, and by the end of the summer I even had a crew of associates and a cople of the younger partners that I was getting dinner and drinks with a couple nights a week. I fit in well, and I was told my multiple people at the firm that I was all but assured an offer. At the end of the summer, they had a few rainmaker partners in my office split for another firm, and things basically went to hell economically. I was told there wouldn't be a position for me, but that they'd serve as a reference for me and it wasn't because of my work or personality. One thing to note though: For all I know, it was because of my work and/or personality. When someone's no-offering you, only listen to the takeaway (which is "You will not be getting a job with this law firm, period.") and not the verbiage. It's like when a girl is dumping you. She might say it's because you're "too nice," but what she really means is she wants to fuck someone more attractive than you.
Now for the happy part about how I landed on my feet:
I did something that I’d recommend every single one of you post-2Ls do *right this second* if you haven’t already: I applied for clerkships. I applied for clerkships because (1.) They’re a good opportunity, and (2.) Hey, what if I get no-offered and need a gig?
Turns out, I did get no-offered and need a gig, but by the end of my 2L summer I had a clerkship lined up. I cannot stress enough what an amazing parachute that was. Sure, not having a long-term firm job lined up sucks, but while I was clerking I learned a shitload, improved my legal writing skills like crazy, and reapplied for firms.
I ended up getting interviews at three firms, offers from two, and going to a mid-sized firm that pays market in the district where I clerked.
Being no-offered really, really, really feels like shit, but it is not game over. If you are a summer associate right now who sees the no-offer writing on the wall (or even thinks there’s a non-zero chance you might be no-offered) begin applying to clerkships immediately. Like, today. Not just USDC and COA either, although obviously those are preferable. Apply to bankruptcy, magistrate, and state court clerkships too. Any clerkship is better than nothing at all, and it will give you a second bite at the law firm apple.