1L hell is in the books. Ten percent of you were in the top 10 percent of the class. Ninety percent of you weren't. Over the next two years, it will be difficult to improve your class standing (though oddly enough, it's quite easy to fall into complacency and let your standing drop).
What should your priorities be during this upcoming year? GPA and the job hunt, with networking and a social life set aside for that ever-so-rare spare time.
There were few things within your control during 1L year. Most, if not all, of your classes and professors were assigned. Between long hours in the library, nights spent in isolation studying Restatements of the Law, and the occasional group study or discussion, it may have felt a bit like prison, with only less fear of getting shanked.
Now is your chance to take control of your schedule to increase your chances of success. Over the last year, you've been exposed to a good sampling of the law's major subject areas. If you're shooting for the best GPA possible, pick electives in your strong areas.
Also, ask 3Ls and recent grads for recommendations on which professors' courses to take. Some professors, especially if your school lacks a mandatory grading curve, will grade easier.
Jobs and Externships
You have three positions to plan for: the upcoming summer, a possible 3L externship (highly recommended), and post-graduation plans.
For the upcoming summer, look beyond On-Campus Interviews and the career services office. With the decline in BigLaw, there likely won't be too many promising leads for those outside the tip-top of the class, especially if you aren't at one of the top-tier law schools. The career services office may be able to point you to job databases and public interest positions that are hard to find on the Internet, but even those sources are a bit dry in this market.
Reach out to any personal connections you may have to the legal industry. If there are any job fairs that you can attend, such as minority job fairs, or school-sponsored job fairs in states which you plan to practice, those can sometimes be fruitful.
Consider mass-mailing as well. Some career offices recommend against it, but we've seen some friends have success after resume-spamming judges and law firms during their 2L and 3L years.
After you've looked into 2L summer, check with your school to see what externship or clinical opportunities are available for 3L year. The practical experience from sitting in a court for a semester, or representing indigent clients from the local community, is far more appealing and useful than a third course on UCC principles in contract law.
Towards the end of the year, and during your 2L summer, you'll also want to look at post-graduation plans. Is that 2L summer gig turning permanent? If not, is your class rank good enough for OCIs to pay dividends?
If not, is Starbucks hiring?
- Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Law Schools Starting Small Firm Incubators - Good Idea? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Desperate 2Ls Treat BigLaw Job Search Like a Full-Time Job (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)