When to apply for Research Assistant position

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BluePurgatory
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When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby BluePurgatory » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:12 am

For 1L summer, being an RA sounds like a pretty sweet gig, but I'm wondering when to start talking to professors about it. I'm assuming it's on a different timeline than outside legal work, but if I want to work for a professor I had this semester should I still wait until near the end of spring, or should I just submit a resume and have a chat with her ASAP?
Also, fun bonus question while we're on the subject, if I have no interest in practicing crim law, but I'm interested in the subject in general, and the professor I had is brilliant and well-known in the field, would RAing for her still be advised for biglaw resume/interview purposes? From what I've heard it's the experience and demonstration of research skills that matter, so I would think that the subject matter is a bit irrelevant.

mushybrain
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby mushybrain » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:03 am

Talk to the professor this month and she can tell you what her timeline is. I think I had mine sorted in February last year.

As for subject matter, I have a BigLaw 2L SA lined up. The firm does some work in the subject area I worked on my 1L summer, but it wasn't a big deal to the firm from which I ended up accepting an offer. The firms I interviewed with did all ask me to talk a bit about what I did, of course, but they all seemed to have the sense that 1Ls don't know WTF they want to do anyway. When asked I just said it was an area I was interested in (because they have a relevant practice, obviously) but that I'm looking forward to seeing other practices, etc. The only exception was the firms that practiced ONLY in that area, and then I obviously used the 1L work to emphasize that I had a demonstrated interest.
Last edited by mushybrain on Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:10 am, edited 3 times in total.

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:06 am

Do more than just RA this summer. I did RA and a clinic. You want to do some real legal work.

mushybrain
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby mushybrain » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:21 am

UnderrateOverachieve wrote:Do more than just RA this summer. I did RA and a clinic. You want to do some real legal work.

This would be wise. I didn't do this, but if I did it over again I'd look into that because the RA gig was very flexible.

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gdane
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby gdane » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:45 am

Straight up ask professors that you're looking for a summer job and that you'd like to be their research assistant if they'll need one.

My research assistant work did not come up at all during biglaw interviews. But it did come up during an interview with a prosecutors office. Didn't expect that. It doesn't matter what you do as a research assistant. You're not getting any kind of bump.

But yea, try to do something in conjunction with being a research assistant. Clinic work or even a judicial internship of some sort. Good luck.

Liam
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby Liam » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:26 pm

UnderrateOverachieve wrote:Do more than just RA this summer. I did RA and a clinic. You want to do some real legal work.


QFT. Purely anecdotal, but I don't know anyone who worked strictly as an RA that then did well at OCI, and most RA gigs aren't enough of a time commitment to preclude something else (either by splitting your summer, doing two part-time gigs, or just working 50-60 hours a week like I did—it's only going to get worse in BigLaw).

As for the timeline, like other people have said, ask the professor what their plans are; that's how most of the other RA's I know of got their gigs. At Georgetown we also have a campus broadcast (in addition to Symplicity) where professors can advertise for RA's, so look into whether your school has those resources as well. Subject matter probably won't be a big deal one way or another, since most RA's aren't necessarily doing substantive enough work to claim any meaningful legal expertise anyway, but working for a well-known academic could be a big boon when it comes to clerkship apps (if that's something you're aiming for).

Anonymous User
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:02 pm

"QFT. Purely anecdotal, but I don't know anyone who worked strictly as an RA that then did well at OCI, and most RA gigs aren't enough of a time commitment to preclude something else (either by splitting your summer, doing two part-time gigs, or just working 50-60 hours a week like I did—it's only going to get worse in BigLaw)."

This is in no way true. I know you said it was purely anecdotal, but the notion that "just" being an RA for the summer is not enough to land you a summer associate position is silly. If you are able to work 40 hours at an RA position, do it! You will get lots of key research and writing experience and there will be PLENTY to talk about during interviews. I know lots of people say you need to "get out of the law building" and get real world experience, but frankly, there aren't many jobs out there for 1Ls that will result in great real world experience. If you end up with only an RA position, work hard it and be able to speak intelligently about it in an interview. I worked strictly as an RA last summer and did just fine at OCI, as did several others at my school.

UnderrateOverachieve
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Re: When to apply for Research Assistant position

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:"QFT. Purely anecdotal, but I don't know anyone who worked strictly as an RA that then did well at OCI, and most RA gigs aren't enough of a time commitment to preclude something else (either by splitting your summer, doing two part-time gigs, or just working 50-60 hours a week like I did—it's only going to get worse in BigLaw)."

This is in no way true. I know you said it was purely anecdotal, but the notion that "just" being an RA for the summer is not enough to land you a summer associate position is silly. If you are able to work 40 hours at an RA position, do it! You will get lots of key research and writing experience and there will be PLENTY to talk about during interviews. I know lots of people say you need to "get out of the law building" and get real world experience, but frankly, there aren't many jobs out there for 1Ls that will result in great real world experience. If you end up with only an RA position, work hard it and be able to speak intelligently about it in an interview. I worked strictly as an RA last summer and did just fine at OCI, as did several others at my school.


Battle of the anecdotes.




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