Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

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man2020

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Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by man2020 » Thu May 07, 2020 12:53 pm

So I am currently hired for a paid summer 1L internship at a disability insurance firm that handles federal claims under ERISA. Apparently a good 40% of their clients are from across the nation. It is a small firm though (5 attorneys).

Before this I had an internship offer from a federal district court judge but that was rescinded because of the virus. I also had an offer from a federal magistrate judge but turned it down in favor of the firm.

I am curious to know whether Big Law firms have preferences for judicial internships over firms? Or what are they looking for from a 1L summer?

When I accepted the firm position I was operating under the assumption that big firms will likely only be looking for what experience I got and not the type of experience. In that case it would just be a matter of me selling it to them during interviews that I gained experience. But now I am having second thoughts and wondering if it was a good idea to turn down the Magistrate judge since he probably is more connected in the legal community. But he actually advised me himself to take the firm position over his and that I could come work for him later.

I have no intention to practice disability claims law as a career but I was hoping that a lot of the experience I get will translate across to areas that big law focuses on.

I guess I am just wondering what BigLaw looks for when they are hiring summer associates during OCI.

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Yea All Right

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by Yea All Right » Thu May 07, 2020 1:42 pm

I think standard advice is that firms just care that your 1L summer job was a legal position; it's just better for you if it's paid. Personally I think having experience in ERISA and actually working at a firm (and all the workplace dynamics that entails) are more impressive than drafting opinions for a judge -- but this is probably influenced by the fact that I'm a corporate lawyer.

As you alluded to, what's most important during interviews is your ability to coherently talk about your experience and what you learned. IMO telling good stories about the matters you worked on is a good strategy.

Libya

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by Libya » Thu May 07, 2020 1:49 pm

Take this with a grain of salt as I just went through the process recently.

I think as long as you are getting legal experience it doesn't matter. And even then,some people at top schools just do RA work or non-legal positions and come out fine. I worked at a boutique that basically none of the firms I interviewed with had known, and as far as I can tell it did not affect my chances, regardless of the firm selectivity; I did get good experience, however. Grades and school are by far most important, followed by flagship journal, then interviewing skills probably, and lastly, experience. Obviously a better 1L gig will help your interviews since it's probably better to talk about how you drafted X motion (or portion thereof) or Y ancillary document (spitballing, not a corp person) as opposed to saying how you read a bunch of academic papers to help your prof with their casebook.

man2020

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by man2020 » Thu May 07, 2020 2:25 pm

Amazing. In that case I'm much better off then because now I'm being paid for what ends up being roughly the same thing on my resume lol.

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Pneumonia

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by Pneumonia » Thu May 07, 2020 2:52 pm

Nothing wrong with doing this, but since you don't want to be an ERISA lawyer, you will need to be prepared to answer why you worked at this firm (and to have biglaw firms/interviewers assume you want to do ERISA). "I wanted to make money rather than work for free" might draw a laugh from the right interviewer, but it isn't a good answer. During your summer, you should be thinking about how you can explain your experiences as generally as possible come OCI.

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jm2819

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by jm2819 » Thu May 07, 2020 2:58 pm

man2020 wrote:So I am currently hired for a paid summer 1L internship at a disability insurance firm that handles federal claims under ERISA. Apparently a good 40% of their clients are from across the nation. It is a small firm though (5 attorneys).

Before this I had an internship offer from a federal district court judge but that was rescinded because of the virus. I also had an offer from a federal magistrate judge but turned it down in favor of the firm.

I am curious to know whether Big Law firms have preferences for judicial internships over firms? Or what are they looking for from a 1L summer?

When I accepted the firm position I was operating under the assumption that big firms will likely only be looking for what experience I got and not the type of experience. In that case it would just be a matter of me selling it to them during interviews that I gained experience. But now I am having second thoughts and wondering if it was a good idea to turn down the Magistrate judge since he probably is more connected in the legal community. But he actually advised me himself to take the firm position over his and that I could come work for him later.

I have no intention to practice disability claims law as a career but I was hoping that a lot of the experience I get will translate across to areas that big law focuses on.

I guess I am just wondering what BigLaw looks for when they are hiring summer associates during OCI.
Echoing what other people have said. Generally, it's not a big factor as long as it was legal work but if someone had an RA position or a non-legal positions and was otherwise qualified, it probably wouldn't be the worst thing against them. I guess having a 1L SA in big law would be the most desired followed by judicial internships

man2020

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by man2020 » Thu May 07, 2020 3:44 pm

Pneumonia wrote:Nothing wrong with doing this, but since you don't want to be an ERISA lawyer, you will need to be prepared to answer why you worked at this firm (and to have biglaw firms/interviewers assume you want to do ERISA). "I wanted to make money rather than work for free" might draw a laugh from the right interviewer, but it isn't a good answer. During your summer, you should be thinking about how you can explain your experiences as generally as possible come OCI.
Good point. I am hoping to 1) Mention COVID19 and how I had an offer rescinded and had to scramble and 2) highlight the general skills I learned like "talked with clients", wrote x memo, etc. I will try to make that clear on my resume as well by not highlighting what the firm does.

Libya

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by Libya » Thu May 07, 2020 4:03 pm

man2020 wrote:
Pneumonia wrote:Nothing wrong with doing this, but since you don't want to be an ERISA lawyer, you will need to be prepared to answer why you worked at this firm (and to have biglaw firms/interviewers assume you want to do ERISA). "I wanted to make money rather than work for free" might draw a laugh from the right interviewer, but it isn't a good answer. During your summer, you should be thinking about how you can explain your experiences as generally as possible come OCI.
Good point. I am hoping to 1) Mention COVID19 and how I had an offer rescinded and had to scramble and 2) highlight the general skills I learned like "talked with clients", wrote x memo, etc. I will try to make that clear on my resume as well by not highlighting what the firm does.
I'd come up with some reason why you were interested and then say it wasn't your cup of tea after all but you did enjoy X or Y aspect (that is conveniently related to the practice/firm you're shooting for).

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Yea All Right

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Re: Do BigLaw Firms Have Preferences for What a 1L Did During Summer?

Post by Yea All Right » Thu May 07, 2020 5:42 pm

I'm the poster who responded first. I don't know that you need to mention the COVID-19 offer rescission at all; just sounds like you're making excuses when you didn't even end up in a worse position. What does TLS think?

I do agree that ERISA is definitely very specialized, so if you don't want to be an ERISA lawyer, just say that while the work was interesting and you learned a lot, you don't want to specialize in ERISA. I think lawyers will just be impressed that you know about ERISA and some of its aspects at all.

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