1L summer positions for academia?

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The_Pluviophile
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1L summer positions for academia?

Postby The_Pluviophile » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:01 pm

Hi all!

So from what I've read, the general consensus seems to be that what one does during their 1L summer is pretty unimportant (as long is its something law related). It also seems to be a consensus that paid firm work is difficult to come by for 1L. Does this change at all for someone who is strongly interested in academia? By this I mean is there a particular position I should be gunning for during 1L summer if I want academia later on down the line, or is it still pretty much do whatever you want/can get? I read on another forum about research assistant positions possibly being a good choice, for example. Is this true? In general I guess I'm struggling to understand what all of the options are.

Possibly relevant info: 0L, headed to Harvard this Fall. General interest in ending up back on the West Coast. Not ruling out possibility of doing big-law for a few years/not getting academia (I know its hard). Very strong interest in clerking after school as well.

Thank you!

Barrred
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby Barrred » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:22 pm

My advice: Its not terribly important, but for your goals you should try to extern for a 9th Circuit judge your 1L summer. Its a great resume line, will expose you to clerking/clerks/COA judges, and will start establishing your west-coast legal ties. For academia, the consensus seems to be that you'll want one or more prestigious COA clerkships (in addition to going to a good school, getting good grades, and having a history of scholarship). Externing for a judge your 1L summer is also a good step toward a biglaw job too, so you're not sacrificing any career options.

I'm not familiar with HLS, but in my experience being an RA is a great way to get to know a professor, improve your writing, and find a direction for your own scholarship, but it seems like a waste of a summer where you could be working on the west coast (in my non-HLS experience, you can usually get an RA gig with a professor during the 2L/3L school year).

Basically: It doesn't matter that much, focus on grades, but if you really want something to target, look at getting a COA externship ("internship" on the east coast), and consider trying to make West Coast legal connections.

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cbbinnyc
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby cbbinnyc » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:37 pm

Edited: I missed the piece about OP wanting to be on the west coast, which obviously helps to explain the advice to do 9th circuit. That said, I am of the mind that RA is probably a better way to go (for academia) especially if you can get a gig with a well-connected professor who can help you snag a clerkship down the road. Others can correct me if I'm wrong, but I've gotten the impression that judicial externships, while generally good jobs, are not game changers on a resume and aren't particularly helpful in getting a clerkship later.

Edited (again) to add: I'm not super familiar with the process of getting into academia, but I do know that if you really want a tenure-track position, you probably don't want to come into the process with too many (if any) geographical restrictions. This is a bit off topic, but thought it was kind of relevant since you mentioned wanting to go to the west coast.

cavalier1138
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:01 pm

I will advocate for RA positions. Professors don't just know judges; they know other professors. And those connections will be extremely valuable if you want to work your way in to academia (assuming you have the requisite grades, resume, etc.).

And yes, you can always RA in 2L/3L, but the summer positions give you a much better connection with the professor and give you the chance to possibly get a head start on writing a note. I don't know Harvard's policies, but other schools also allow you to do research for a professor part-time while working another job.

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jaekeem
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby jaekeem » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:09 pm

I double RAed this summer. Not interested in academia myself, but I got to draft parts of law review articles and just get a good sense of what legal academia entails outside of the classroom. I think it could help you a lot, if only because academia is insular and connections with professors can only help, and also because the experience will let you see what being a professor is really like, beyond what every other law student experiences.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:25 pm

The big thing for academia is developing a research agenda. I think RAing would be the most helpful in this regard, especially if you can RA for someone who works in the area(s) you're interested in. Barring that (or in addition?), in theory if you can get summer work that relates to your area of interest, that would help. (Like if you're interested in writing about the prison system work for a PD's office or some kind of innocence project, or if you want to do cyber/internet stuff see if you can hook up with the Berkman Klein Center or the like. Some of these will be a lot easier to do than others of course, but at least you'll be trying from Harvard!)

Also, this is an excellent thing to talk to profs about once you get there. Especially recently-hired profs.

tomwatts
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby tomwatts » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:54 pm

Barrred wrote:My advice: Its not terribly important, but for your goals you should try to extern for a 9th Circuit judge your 1L summer.

You basically can't do this from HLS, though. HLS doesn't (financially) support summer judicial internships.

Agreeing with the above: RA-ing for a big-name prof in your area of specialty is probably the best thing to do, either exclusively or alongside a public interest job in your area of specialty. And talk to law professors once you get to school; one thing you can be sure that law professors know about is how to become a law professor.

ernie
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby ernie » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:47 pm

RAing can help with clerkships too, if your prof is willing to make some calls.

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The_Pluviophile
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby The_Pluviophile » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:22 pm

Thank you all for the responses! Looks like RA'ing is the way to go. For those of you who did this, what is the application process like for these positions?

Also, you all mentioned talking to professors (which is obviously great advice, since they would know best how to become a professor lol), but I was wondering to what extent it's appropriate to speak to professors whose class you aren't taking. I imagine it isn't too difficult to meet/speak with a professor if you're in their class, but would it be appropriate to set up a meeting with a professor in my interest area even if I'm not in their class?

Thanks again!

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jaekeem
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby jaekeem » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:36 pm

The_Pluviophile wrote:Thank you all for the responses! Looks like RA'ing is the way to go. For those of you who did this, what is the application process like for these positions?

Also, you all mentioned talking to professors (which is obviously great advice, since they would know best how to become a professor lol), but I was wondering to what extent it's appropriate to speak to professors whose class you aren't taking. I imagine it isn't too difficult to meet/speak with a professor if you're in their class, but would it be appropriate to set up a meeting with a professor in my interest area even if I'm not in their class?

Thanks again!


There will be job applications on symplicity and the like. Just fill out/send the materials the prof wants. They'll ask you to come by their office to talk (or at least that was my experience), and either offer you the job on the spot or a few days later.

I think cold emailing profs is fine. Some don't respond to emails well at all, or reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally slowly, so you may need to take a class with them/stop by their office, but it's not weird or hard to reach out to a professor for what you've outlined (in my opinion).

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The_Pluviophile
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby The_Pluviophile » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:47 pm

jaekeem wrote:
The_Pluviophile wrote:Thank you all for the responses! Looks like RA'ing is the way to go. For those of you who did this, what is the application process like for these positions?

Also, you all mentioned talking to professors (which is obviously great advice, since they would know best how to become a professor lol), but I was wondering to what extent it's appropriate to speak to professors whose class you aren't taking. I imagine it isn't too difficult to meet/speak with a professor if you're in their class, but would it be appropriate to set up a meeting with a professor in my interest area even if I'm not in their class?

Thanks again!


There will be job applications on symplicity and the like. Just fill out/send the materials the prof wants. They'll ask you to come by their office to talk (or at least that was my experience), and either offer you the job on the spot or a few days later.

I think cold emailing profs is fine. Some don't respond to emails well at all, or reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally slowly, so you may need to take a class with them/stop by their office, but it's not weird or hard to reach out to a professor for what you've outlined (in my opinion).


Ok, good to know. Thank you!

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Hand
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby Hand » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:19 pm

Being an RA will show you just how useless and tedious the writing of law review articles is. Be sure to stick around to the. See the fruits of that labor be evaluated as to its fitness for being published by a bunch of know-nothing law students.

wubwubwub
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby wubwubwub » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:52 pm

Since you're starting at HLS, you should check the Administrative Update. Just google HLS administrative update and you'll find it. Most profs post RA positions there, even the fancy ones like Laurence Tribe. Some of them even explicitly accept apps from entering students who haven't yet started at HLS. Otherwise, yeah, cold emailing can be surprisingly productive.

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iamgeorgebush
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby iamgeorgebush » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:43 pm

To add a dissenting voice, I would recommend limiting any 1L summer RA activities to part-time work and being sure to get an ordinary full-time legal internship for your 1L summer. You'll get plenty of opportunity to RA for professors during the school year, but you won't get the same chance at a full-time legal internship—an experience that can be valuable for academia to the extent it exposes you to real-world legal issues and gives you institutional knowledge. Both of these things can inform your research.

Building connections to well-known professors is critically important if you hope to enter law teaching, but you don't need to sacrifice a normal 1L summer job to get there.

cavalier1138
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:07 am

iamgeorgebush wrote:To add a dissenting voice, I would recommend limiting any 1L summer RA activities to part-time work and being sure to get an ordinary full-time legal internship for your 1L summer. You'll get plenty of opportunity to RA for professors during the school year, but you won't get the same chance at a full-time legal internship—an experience that can be valuable for academia to the extent it exposes you to real-world legal issues and gives you institutional knowledge. Both of these things can inform your research.

Building connections to well-known professors is critically important if you hope to enter law teaching, but you don't need to sacrifice a normal 1L summer job to get there.


You can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one that wants you to do it part-time. And if you're doing research for good/well-known professors, it's a net positive for any job applications.

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iamgeorgebush
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby iamgeorgebush » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:09 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:To add a dissenting voice, I would recommend limiting any 1L summer RA activities to part-time work and being sure to get an ordinary full-time legal internship for your 1L summer. You'll get plenty of opportunity to RA for professors during the school year, but you won't get the same chance at a full-time legal internship—an experience that can be valuable for academia to the extent it exposes you to real-world legal issues and gives you institutional knowledge. Both of these things can inform your research.

Building connections to well-known professors is critically important if you hope to enter law teaching, but you don't need to sacrifice a normal 1L summer job to get there.


You can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one that wants you to do it part-time. And if you're doing research for good/well-known professors, it's a net positive for any job applications.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that you can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one who wants you to do it part-time (did you mean that you can RA for multiple profs—each part-time—if you don't find a single prof who wants you to do it full-time?).

But my point is that it would be unwise to spend one's entire 1L summer doing RA work—it would be better to pursue a more traditional legal internship (like a USAO, a judicial externship, or a public-interest internship) instead, and then maybe RA part-time in addition to that. Students have all of law school for RA work, while there are only the two summers for full-time non-RA legal work. So you don't have to give up the chance of doing a more traditional 1L summer legal internship in order to do RA work—you can still do the RA work part-time during the summers and the 2L and 3L school years and gain just about the same benefits as you would from full-time RA work.

I'd also note that RA work can be pretty boring, depending on what the prof has you doing. While some profs will ask you to draft portions of the actual articles, my impression is that most profs have their RAs reading cases, writing footnotes, formatting citations, and the like. Not exactly thrilling work. While I know others (including myself) who have had more substantive work (such as drafting portions of articles), this hasn't come until 2L or 3L, when the RA has more experience with legal scholarship (through Law Review or otherwise). (Of course, this may be different for profs whose scholarship is, e.g., empirical, provided you have the necessary skills.)
Last edited by iamgeorgebush on Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

cavalier1138
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:14 am

iamgeorgebush wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:To add a dissenting voice, I would recommend limiting any 1L summer RA activities to part-time work and being sure to get an ordinary full-time legal internship for your 1L summer. You'll get plenty of opportunity to RA for professors during the school year, but you won't get the same chance at a full-time legal internship—an experience that can be valuable for academia to the extent it exposes you to real-world legal issues and gives you institutional knowledge. Both of these things can inform your research.

Building connections to well-known professors is critically important if you hope to enter law teaching, but you don't need to sacrifice a normal 1L summer job to get there.


You can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one that wants you to do it part-time. And if you're doing research for good/well-known professors, it's a net positive for any job applications.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that you can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one who wants you to do it part-time (did you mean that you can RA for multiple profs—each part-time—if you don't find a single prof who wants you to do it full-time?).

But my point is that it would be unwise to spend one's entire 1L summer doing RA work—it would be better to pursue a more traditional legal internship (like a USAO, a judicial externship, or a public-interest internship) instead, and then maybe RA part-time in addition to that. Students have all of law school for RA work, while there are only the two summers for full-time non-RA legal work. So you don't have to give up the chance of doing a more traditional 1L summer legal internship in order to do RA work—you can still do the RA work part-time during the summers and the 2L and 3L school years and gain just about the same benefits as you would from full-time RA work.

I'd also note that RA work can be pretty boring, depending on what the prof has you doing. While some profs will ask you to draft portions of the actual articles, my impression is that most profs have their RAs reading cases, writing footnotes, formatting citations, and the like. Not exactly thrilling work. While I know others (including myself) who have had more substantive work (such as drafting portions of articles), this hasn't come until 2L or 3L, when the RA has more experience with legal scholarship (through Law Review or otherwise).


Sorry, yes. I meant full-time.

But what I'm saying overall is that legal academia will value a stronger research background than a few months of "real world" work at an internship.

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iamgeorgebush
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby iamgeorgebush » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:31 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:To add a dissenting voice, I would recommend limiting any 1L summer RA activities to part-time work and being sure to get an ordinary full-time legal internship for your 1L summer. You'll get plenty of opportunity to RA for professors during the school year, but you won't get the same chance at a full-time legal internship—an experience that can be valuable for academia to the extent it exposes you to real-world legal issues and gives you institutional knowledge. Both of these things can inform your research.

Building connections to well-known professors is critically important if you hope to enter law teaching, but you don't need to sacrifice a normal 1L summer job to get there.


You can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one that wants you to do it part-time. And if you're doing research for good/well-known professors, it's a net positive for any job applications.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that you can RA for multiple professors if you don't find one who wants you to do it part-time (did you mean that you can RA for multiple profs—each part-time—if you don't find a single prof who wants you to do it full-time?).

But my point is that it would be unwise to spend one's entire 1L summer doing RA work—it would be better to pursue a more traditional legal internship (like a USAO, a judicial externship, or a public-interest internship) instead, and then maybe RA part-time in addition to that. Students have all of law school for RA work, while there are only the two summers for full-time non-RA legal work. So you don't have to give up the chance of doing a more traditional 1L summer legal internship in order to do RA work—you can still do the RA work part-time during the summers and the 2L and 3L school years and gain just about the same benefits as you would from full-time RA work.

I'd also note that RA work can be pretty boring, depending on what the prof has you doing. While some profs will ask you to draft portions of the actual articles, my impression is that most profs have their RAs reading cases, writing footnotes, formatting citations, and the like. Not exactly thrilling work. While I know others (including myself) who have had more substantive work (such as drafting portions of articles), this hasn't come until 2L or 3L, when the RA has more experience with legal scholarship (through Law Review or otherwise).


Sorry, yes. I meant full-time.

But what I'm saying overall is that legal academia will value a stronger research background than a few months of "real world" work at an internship.

Well, I'm skeptical that "legal academia" (i.e., profs on hiring committees) is going to care much at all what you've done during your 1L summer. The main thing they'll care about is your scholarship and perceived scholarly potential, as measured by (1) any scholarship you've written (particularly your job-market paper), (2) recommendations from other profs, and (3) credentials such as advanced degrees and clerkships (although this is probably not as important as #1 and #2). Your 1L summer will matter only insofar as it helps you in one of those areas.

So back to OP's question, one might ask what type of 1L summer work will best position OP in those areas. RA work can definitely help to the extent it (1) helps you develop your research agenda and gain knowledge about the scholarship and legal issues in the prof's subfield and (2) gets you in the prof's good graces. But I think there are diminishing returns to RA work—you can get all these things by RAing part-time during the summer and during 2L and 3L without having to spend an entire summer doing nothing but RA work. Meanwhile, a non-RA summer job, such as a USAO internship, judicial externship, or public-interest internship, won't help #2, but it could help #1 in a meaningful way that you won't get from your RA work.

notrub14
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Re: 1L summer positions for academia?

Postby notrub14 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:38 pm

Spend your 1L summer working on your apps to the Harvard and MIT PhD programs in Economics.




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