Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

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thesealocust
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Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby thesealocust » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:12 pm

So career services keeps us shut out for another month and a half, but I'm curious to start picking TLS members' collective wisdom on how to spend our 1L summers. I'll outline some things I'm considering (however vaguely) and hopefully people with actually information as opposed to wild guesses and rumors can flesh out the discussion...

1) Firm job. Obviously 'big firm' jobs are VERY tricky to land in good times, and there is reasonable speculation that they will be tougher still now. Ignoring for now a discussion on the magnitude of the contraction, I have heard that many just take the top grades they get, but I have heard of people scoring positions on the strength of UG career. Is this mostly 'connections' or what? Do people have more success in smaller / regional-er firms?

2) Work for a professor. I get the impression that this is much easier to do, and tends to pay a livable wage (even if it isn't quite 3K/week, lol). Do people tend to approach profs at random, or develop relationships with them during 1L and then ask?

3) Public interest stuff. How competitive is this area? Potentially the most 'diverse' in the sense that there will be groups all over the place doing various kinds of work... do public defenders and the like take 1Ls?

4) Judges. I keep hearing it mentioned in passing that federal summer internships (is that the right termenology?) aren't nearly as hard to get as Honest to God Clerkships. Is that so? What kinds of criteria are they looking for? Is it still the case that if offered a position you accept on the spot - and if so would that make it tough to apply for other kinds of work since you know you'd have to 'stick' to a judge if it came up?

5) Government work - probably a smaller field, but do people head off to prosecutor's offices (on the local level) or do summer stints with DoJ/JAG as 1Ls? What about quasi-political work, like congressional staff / committees?

Interested to hear people's advice generally before career services gets their hands on us... thanks in advance!

Anonymous User
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:29 pm

Just my two cents ---

1.) Finding a 1L firm job IS VERY tough, even in good economic times. I think it would be nearly impossible now.

2.) Outside of a firm, I think a federal judge internship is your next best bet. That's what I did this past summer and it was a truly great experience. I had a lot of substantive work -- the Judge treated the interns as "mini" clerks and we were writing bench memos for real cases the entire time. Perhaps even more importantly however -- federal judicial chambers are small. With even just a little bit of luck, you'll get to know your judge fairly well. My judge was very social -- our entire office went to a baseball game one night, lunch another day, etc. Getting to know somebody like that is just an incredible experience.

3.) I think the general rule is that you should accept a judge's offer on the spot. The reason for that to me however is very obvious. Getting all of the above is very important -- unless you had a sure thing with a firm, why would you want to lose that?

4.) All of the other typical 1L options are good too and I know many people who had fulfilling summer jobs -- but I would personally rank a judicial internship as your best option after a good firm job.

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Cavalier
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Cavalier » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:13 pm

Which judges have summer interns? Court of appeals judges, or just federal district judges?

Olto
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Olto » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:24 pm

I interned for a federal district court judge and it was amazing. I think it's the best experience you can have as a 1L. You write opinions, meaning you get to read entire dockets on cases, read the briefs, discuss with the clerks and the judges the issues in the case and finally decide and write on them. You'll be lucky at a firm to get a glance at a brief, and maybe work on one or two. I worked on twelve opinions, and a few other cases that the clerks or other interns were working on. This is not to mention the dozens of conferences, hearings, etc. that I sat in on, witnessing some of the best attorneys from around the country argue.


It's easier to get because judges hire tons of interns for the summer, whereas for a whole year they only hire two clerks. It's just numbers.


EDIT: all sorts of judges have internship programs, from bankruptcy to circuit. I wouldn't work for a circuit because they won't let you touch opinions. In fact, I wouldn't work for any judge, regardless of how well known they are, if you can't touch opinions.

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Cavalier
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Cavalier » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:07 pm

Thanks for the insight. I suppose you're right, obviously it would be insane if people with only a year of law school were handling circuit opinions. Are circuit internships difficult to land?

emoticons777
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby emoticons777 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:41 pm

When would be the best/most appropriate time for a 1L to apply to these judicial internships? Would it be early (before the end of 1st semester) or fairly normal (early/mid 2nd semester)?

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Olto » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:52 pm

emoticons777 wrote:When would be the best/most appropriate time for a 1L to apply to these judicial internships? Would it be early (before the end of 1st semester) or fairly normal (early/mid 2nd semester)?



Honestly, I don't know. For some reason, my career services people didn't push judicial internships* so I honestly didn't know they were even an option until about January. The one I ended up landing was posted on our career services site. I would ask your OCS people and see what they have to say about deadlines. From what I understand, most people just mailmerge dozens judges and send em all out around the holiday break.


* NYU doesn't pay for your summer if you are a judicial intern, unlike other public interest jobs; therefore they don't encourage students to pursue them.


As for Circuit internships, from what I understand, they *might* let you work on the facts part of an opinion, but that's it. You might write a memo to the clerk about the law, but even that is pushy. At the District Court level, you're dealing with both facts and law.

showNprove
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby showNprove » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:55 pm

How hard is it to land an internship with a District Judge in a larger city, such as Philadelphia or Richmond? What criteria do they use for hiring? And do you just send your resume, or your resume and a writing sample, or more?

gollymolly
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby gollymolly » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:59 pm

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Last edited by gollymolly on Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

FrankReynolds
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby FrankReynolds » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:13 pm

If you want money, in-house/corporate positions are your best bet. Firms jobs really do not exist for 1L's. I know 5 people at my school(CCN) who had firm jobs this past summer--4 were diversity scholarship hires, and 1 had VERY good connections in entertainment law.

Working for a professor typically pays very little.

In this economy though, you really take what you can get.

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thesealocust
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby thesealocust » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:16 pm

gollymolly wrote:Don't forget in house positions. I did this, it was excellent experience, most of my coworkers used to work at law firms so they had good insights, and it paid reasonably well (most of the in house positions I looked at paid around 1k a week).


That's a cool alternative! *adds to the 'to-do when you're going crazy studying for exams lol' list*

showNprove
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby showNprove » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:45 pm

gollymolly wrote:Don't forget in house positions. I did this, it was excellent experience, most of my coworkers used to work at law firms so they had good insights, and it paid reasonably well (most of the in house positions I looked at paid around 1k a week).

How do you go about finding openings for these?

gollymolly
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby gollymolly » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:47 pm

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Last edited by gollymolly on Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

showNprove
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby showNprove » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:48 pm

gollymolly wrote:NU's career services advertised them regularly throughout the year. I assume most schools have similar set ups. Also, I googled a bunch of major companies (google, apple, etc.) and many of them had descriptions of their law internship programs and how to apply.

Thanks for the tip!

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby awesomepossum » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:49 pm

Defenders and appellate defenders offices usually take 1Ls. If you're going to a trial level defenders office, I would look to go to a state that lets 2Ls (1L summers are technically 2Ls) argue in front of a judge under the supervision of a lawyer.

In any case, this is great experience. An appellate defenders office has the added benefit that you will probably walk away with a great writing sample.

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:49 am

I was the first person who posted to this thread -- I worked for a COA Judge.

I can tell you for a fact that I worked on alot of substantive projects, involving law, facts, everything. I wrote a lot of bench memos for the judge -- they would give me the record and tell me pretty much to go to work and figure it out. I know that the Judge would read our bench memos because he would give them back to us with his own suggestions. Of course, the clerks helped me a lot -- and this particular judge had a career clerk who was VERY helpful. But to say that you don't do much in a COA internship is not necessarily true. I think it's highly dependent upon the Judge and my Judge entrusted us with rather significant responsibility. As for the opinions -- I didn't actually write an opinion, obviously. But I certainly read all of the opinions and was asked for my feedback. I think the amount of input you have again depends upon the clerks -- but I also think in our office the clerks took their cue from the Judge and when they knew that he treated the interns seriously, they also treated us seriously as well.

One thing -- the COA is very prestigous, don't get me wrong. But at the same time remember that every losing party at the DC level gets a right of appeal basically. So the COA cases are not always these profound constitutional law questions -- in fact, I would say that the majority of cases in any one sitting are prisoners complaining about their sentences. The Court has to take these cases. And a good COA Judge will take every single one of these cases seriously, even if 95% of them don't really go anywhere. These cases aren't exactly rocket science and I worked on a couple of them -- I think they are excellent intern projects because you see how the legal process works but the cases aren't particuarly difficult to resolve or complex in nature. That said, after proving myself with those cases, I also got to work on other more substantive matters too -- a contracts case, a big employment law dispute, etc.

On the application process -- there was no formal application process. I sent my resume out to about 20 judges over Christmas break. The Judge I ended up working for was the only COA Judge that I sent my resume to and that was mainly because he was also an alumni of my school. I sent it to all of the magistrate and DC judges in our local federal district. Two other Judges also wrote me back and wanted to interview me, but the COA Judge interviewed me first and then offered me the job on the spot. One Magistrate Judge also interviewed me, but he was also late to the game.

I want to stress one thing -- these jobs are highly competitive. Yes, it's easier than getting a clerkship, but, at the same time, you had to have good grades, personality, etc. I know that the judge I worked for has hired interns as regular clerks in the past -- so I think he uses the internship program at least a little bit as a "try-out" so to speak -- so he takes the hiring process very seriously.

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby samiseaborn » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:41 pm

gollymolly wrote:Don't forget in house positions. I did this, it was excellent experience, most of my coworkers used to work at law firms so they had good insights, and it paid reasonably well (most of the in house positions I looked at paid around 1k a week).


Thank you for that suggestion, I never would have thought of that!

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:52 pm

A few follow-up questions for the judicial internship people (probably stupid, but I'm just learning about this now):

-How hard is it to get judicial internships? I'm at CCN - obviously don't know my grades yet, but am good interviewer/great UG record and work experience. Also, I'm from NYC so there's no "going local" option. I know the guy who did a COA internship mentioned it was quite selective, but is this true of district and magistrate judges?

-Along those lines - do federal magistrate judges typically take interns? Are these positions seen as acceptable (i.e., your 1L summer get any legal job) or are they much less favorably looked upon compared to regular district judges and COA judges?

Thanks for your help guys.

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:58 pm

gollymolly wrote:Don't forget in house positions. I did this, it was excellent experience, most of my coworkers used to work at law firms so they had good insights, and it paid reasonably well (most of the in house positions I looked at paid around 1k a week).


Gollymolly - did you find your in-house through postings at your school, or do people generally find them through connections?

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:17 pm

I'm wondering what kinds of grades we will need as 1Ls to secure either a job or work with a judge this summer. I'm a michigan summer starter and we'll have our grades from the summer semester to send to prospective employers by December 1st. I'm pretty sure I'll be in the top 5-10% of my group, and was wondering if this would be good enough to make me competitive, especially competing against 1Ls who don't have grades.


*mods-please PM me if you want to ask why this is anonymous

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby gollymolly » Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:24 am

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Last edited by gollymolly on Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:01 am

gollymolly wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:
gollymolly wrote:Don't forget in house positions. I did this, it was excellent experience, most of my coworkers used to work at law firms so they had good insights, and it paid reasonably well (most of the in house positions I looked at paid around 1k a week).


Gollymolly - did you find your in-house through postings at your school, or do people generally find them through connections?



gollymolly wrote:NU's career services advertised them regularly throughout the year. I assume most schools have similar set ups. Also, I googled a bunch of major companies (google, apple, etc.) and many of them had descriptions of their law internship programs and how to apply.


Woops. I'm an idiot, thanks.

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby ggocat » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:36 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:A few follow-up questions for the judicial internship people (probably stupid, but I'm just learning about this now):

-How hard is it to get judicial internships? I'm at CCN - obviously don't know my grades yet, but am good interviewer/great UG record and work experience. Also, I'm from NYC so there's no "going local" option. I know the guy who did a COA internship mentioned it was quite selective, but is this true of district and magistrate judges?

-Along those lines - do federal magistrate judges typically take interns? Are these positions seen as acceptable (i.e., your 1L summer get any legal job) or are they much less favorably looked upon compared to regular district judges and COA judges?

Thanks for your help guys.

As you might expect, it's most difficult to land an internship with a circuit judge. It's less difficult obtain an internship with a district judge. I have no idea about how difficult it is to get an internship with a magistrate judge. If you want to intern for a federal judge, I suggest asking your professors to see if they could recommend you. I've interned for two district judges and one circuit judge. For one district judge, I mailed the resume (during 1L-resume-bomb season). For the other district judge, I hand-delivered the resume to chambers. For the circuit judge, one of my professors contacted the judge on my behalf (after I had sent resumes to about 20 circuit judges with no positive responses).

Some magistrates take interns, and it's definitely not looked down on. Any 1L internship with a judge will look fine. You don't need to limit yourself to federal judges. Working for a state judge is also a great option. No matter where you work, you will get some great experience. I've really enjoyed working for judges.


showNprove wrote:How hard is it to land an internship with a District Judge in a larger city, such as Philadelphia or Richmond? What criteria do they use for hiring? And do you just send your resume, or your resume and a writing sample, or more?

I'm not sure how "hard" it is. Only way to know is send your resume and see what happens. Many judges will hire 1L interns without grades, so don't let grades (or a lack thereof) hold you back.

Criteria: having never hired an intern, I don't really know. For 1Ls, it's difficult to distinguish yourself if you don't have grades. Your job will probably consist of doing plenty of research and writing, but I think most judges are just looking for someone who is easy to get along with and eager to learn. I don't think judges are often looking for students who can help ease the docket (i.e., do a ton of work). If they get an intern that is good at research and writing, it's like a bonus. Really, I think you should focus on how you would like to learn from the judge and his/her clerks. Regardless of whether you are working on prisoner cases all the time or handling civil motions (dismiss, summary judgment, transfer venue, remand, discovery stuff, etc.), the experience is great.

I would just send a cover letter, resume, and references. If they want more, you can provide it later. Some judges will request a writing sample and/or transcripts.


emoticons777 wrote:When would be the best/most appropriate time for a 1L to apply to these judicial internships? Would it be early (before the end of 1st semester) or fairly normal (early/mid 2nd semester)?

I would apply before the end of the first semester. October or November would probably be best. By that time, the clerkship hiring is typically over. You don't want your app to get lost in the clerkship pile, which has happened to me.

Some judges hire early (before December), and other judges hire later (February/March). But plenty hire in between those times. If you are going "back home" for the holidays and want to interview then, be sure to say so in your cover letter. Some judges who regularly hire later will make an exception for you because you are from out of town.

articulably suspect
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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby articulably suspect » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:04 pm

ggocat wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:A few follow-up questions for the judicial internship people (probably stupid, but I'm just learning about this now):

-How hard is it to get judicial internships? I'm at CCN - obviously don't know my grades yet, but am good interviewer/great UG record and work experience. Also, I'm from NYC so there's no "going local" option. I know the guy who did a COA internship mentioned it was quite selective, but is this true of district and magistrate judges?

-Along those lines - do federal magistrate judges typically take interns? Are these positions seen as acceptable (i.e., your 1L summer get any legal job) or are they much less favorably looked upon compared to regular district judges and COA judges?

Thanks for your help guys.

As you might expect, it's most difficult to land an internship with a circuit judge. It's less difficult obtain an internship with a district judge. I have no idea about how difficult it is to get an internship with a magistrate judge. If you want to intern for a federal judge, I suggest asking your professors to see if they could recommend you. I've interned for two district judges and one circuit judge. For one district judge, I mailed the resume (during 1L-resume-bomb season). For the other district judge, I hand-delivered the resume to chambers. For the circuit judge, one of my professors contacted the judge on my behalf (after I had sent resumes to about 20 circuit judges with no positive responses).

Some magistrates take interns, and it's definitely not looked down on. Any 1L internship with a judge will look fine. You don't need to limit yourself to federal judges. Working for a state judge is also a great option. No matter where you work, you will get some great experience. I've really enjoyed working for judges.


showNprove wrote:How hard is it to land an internship with a District Judge in a larger city, such as Philadelphia or Richmond? What criteria do they use for hiring? And do you just send your resume, or your resume and a writing sample, or more?

I'm not sure how "hard" it is. Only way to know is send your resume and see what happens. Many judges will hire 1L interns without grades, so don't let grades (or a lack thereof) hold you back.

Criteria: having never hired an intern, I don't really know. For 1Ls, it's difficult to distinguish yourself if you don't have grades. Your job will probably consist of doing plenty of research and writing, but I think most judges are just looking for someone who is easy to get along with and eager to learn. I don't think judges are often looking for students who can help ease the docket (i.e., do a ton of work). If they get an intern that is good at research and writing, it's like a bonus. Really, I think you should focus on how you would like to learn from the judge and his/her clerks. Regardless of whether you are working on prisoner cases all the time or handling civil motions (dismiss, summary judgment, transfer venue, remand, discovery stuff, etc.), the experience is great.

I would just send a cover letter, resume, and references. If they want more, you can provide it later. Some judges will request a writing sample and/or transcripts.


emoticons777 wrote:When would be the best/most appropriate time for a 1L to apply to these judicial internships? Would it be early (before the end of 1st semester) or fairly normal (early/mid 2nd semester)?

I would apply before the end of the first semester. October or November would probably be best. By that time, the clerkship hiring is typically over. You don't want your app to get lost in the clerkship pile, which has happened to me.

Some judges hire early (before December), and other judges hire later (February/March). But plenty hire in between those times. If you are going "back home" for the holidays and want to interview then, be sure to say so in your cover letter. Some judges who regularly hire later will make an exception for you because you are from out of town.


What about superior court judges? I ask only becasue I have a close friend(ex co-worker) who is a superior court judge now and said to let him know if he could do anything to help me out in ls. Do you know of anyone who's landed a superior court internship? If so, what were their experiences?

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Re: Pros and Cons of various 1L summer options

Postby ggocat » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:00 pm

ejjones wrote:What about superior court judges? I ask only becasue I have a close friend(ex co-worker) who is a superior court judge now and said to let him know if he could do anything to help me out in ls. Do you know of anyone who's landed a superior court internship? If so, what were their experiences?

I know some people who worked for superior court judges and enjoyed it. They did research and writing, but they also did more courtroom observation than the typical federal court intern.




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