May 12, 2017

What To Do if You Still Don't Have a Law School Summer Internship

what to do if you're a 1L without a summer internship |

This morning I was remembering how this time last year I did not have a summer job lined up at all. And that got me thinking about how there's probably a few of y'all out there in the same boat who could use a little encouragement right now. Enter me 😃 But if you have been reading my blog for a while then you know that I ended up with two jobs over the summer so here's how I pulled that off last minute!

Related: My Experience Working With a Judge and a State Representative

Get real with yourself

I know right now it seems like everyone and their dog has a job right now and you're behind. The summer is just starting and you're not behind yet. You literally have months to get a job. 

Also, don't put too much pressure on this job or think that you have to find the perfect job. I remember that I kept thinking that my 1L summer job would either invite me back or give me connections so that I could find my 2L summer job and then my 2L summer job would offer me a job and then I'd be set for life. Sure, some people have their lives work out like that but it's totally okay if this summer job isn't at a top law firm in your dream city.

Another thing to know before you go last-minute job searching is that it's more likely than not that you won't find a paying job. It sounds ridiculous because here you are with a Bachelor's degree and 1/3 of a law degree going out into this very lucrative field, but there's just not a whole lot of paying jobs out there for law students. I know it sucks and it can be stressful if you're taking out loans, but trust me that you'll be grateful to have at least some experience later on.

Go talk to career services right now

As I see it, the reason why you don't have a job lined up is either because you procrastinated too much (me) or something went wrong. If it's the latter, career services can help you figure that out and fix it— whether it be your resumé, cover letter, writing sample, interview skills, or social media impressions. Second, they probably do have some Hail Mary options left for you. At my old school, if you didn't have a job they would set you up with a judge, which is exactly what I did. 

Try to shadow a judge 

If your school doesn't have any back up plans and are like sorry kid, then maybe try doing this on your own and go to your local court house and ask if you can essentially shadow a judge. Sitting in a real trial from voir dire through verdict was one of the best learning experiences that I could have. You see what's spot on and completely wrong in movies. You can connect what you've learned in class to a real-life case. You have the opportunity to learn about procedures before you take Evidence or Trial Procedure. You can mingle and network and pick the brains of the lawyers coming in and out of the court. Your judge will probably get busy at some point and ask you to do a task and then yay you just got some experience and something to write about on a resumé or talk about in an interview. 

Seriously though, the first job that I would try to get is working with a judge. Almost every professor or upper level student who has given me advice about how to learn a lot about a wide array of subjects has said that working for a judge is the best thing you can do. 

Keep looking for jobs

While I was working under my judge, I still had some down time since I wasn't going to summer school (Related: Why I Think You Should Take Summer Classes in Law School) so I kept searching for jobs. Don't think that just because the summer has already started that law jobs aren't still being posted! Some people didn't think they needed an intern and find out that they do, or realize that they need more than they thought, or have an intern back out/leave and need to replace, or just like me procrastinated too much and now are like oh yeah should probably try to find a summer intern now that it's summer. 

This is how I found my second job. Okay I'm playing fast and loose with the word "job" here since it was not paid. I'm not sure (so comment below if I'm wrong) but I think the vocabulary is "clerk/clerkship" if you're getting paid and "intern/internship" if you're not. But also maybe the former is for law firms only and the latter is for any job in general? Anyways back on topic. I had been with my judge for about two weeks when I came across the job with the State Representative. What worked out perfectly is that a lot of these summer jobs have weekly caps at like 10 or 20 hours a week that they'll allow you to work so because this internship had that I decided to still keep going with my judge 2 days a week.

Don't know where to even start looking for jobs? See if your state Bar's website has a career website and look for clerk and summer associate positions!

Take any legal job possible

Two takeaways form this: any and legal. I specify legal job because I know that when your prospects aren't looking great and especially when you're not getting paid for it, it can be verrrrry tempting to just go find a typical college summer job. It is my personal advice to avoid doing that unless it's financially necessary for you. If you're worried about how to pay your rent, the easiest solution is sign up for at least one summer class and then take out a loan for summer school because student loans include the price of housing. The main reason why I say fight this temptation is because it's likely going to bite you in the ass later on. Think about it when you're a 2L— everyone else applying for the same jobs as you will all have at least a summer worth of experience ahead of you. Who do you think will get passed over? Yeah, you. And then you're in the same boat and can't find a legal job. 

Here is a great article about why you should still take an unpaid internship

The second point is any. To be honest with y'all, at first I thought that basically shadowing a judge all summer would be a complete waste of my time and that I'd learn nothing. Obviously from my second section in this post, I was way wrong! And I was hesitant at first taking a job in the Capitol instead of at a law firm because I didn't think that my experience would be as relevant since I eventually do want to work at a law firm. But again, I was wrong. You know how all of your law classes eventually overlap? Law jobs are the same! So even if you want to do civil work after graduation but can only find a job on the criminal side, take it! You'll still learn basics that can apply to any type of law like how to deal with clients and how to use the non-student versions of Lexis and West (yeah it's different).

Ok I'm getting off my soap box. But I just wanted those of y'all who don't have a job yet to know that there's still hope and you never know where you're going to end up this summer. So keep your chin up and keep a positive attitude and go out there and gain some legal experience!!


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