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Dec. 1 marks the first day 1Ls can start their summer legal job search, which means those gunners in your class already have their resumes and cover letters ready to go.
But if you're not in that group, it doesn't mean all hope of finding summer work is lost. There's still time to get your foot in the door.
If your goal is to graduate law school as an associate at a BigLaw firm, your first summer is crucial. But that doesn't necessarily mean a summer associateship is key to meeting that goal.
Sure, a summer associateship is a good way to test out whether you really like firm work and to gain some valuable skills. If you can land one, there's no reason to turn it down.
If you haven't already, research firms in your area, both big and small, that regularly hire associates from your school.
Talk to current students and alumni who've done a summer associateship at those places and find out the application deadlines for firms you're interested in. Then send in your applications and hope for the best.
Then what to do if the best doesn't happen?
Another great option for your 1L summer is to find a position clerking for a judge. Both federal and state court judges look for summer clerks. Those students gain experience drafting opinions, listening to cases, and generally dealing with trials.
If you have a particular specialty interest, look for courtrooms that deal with those issues. If you're not sure, then apply to judges who preside over a wide variety of cases so you'll hear a range of complaints.
If you still can't get find a position as a law clerk (and make sure to apply far and wide to increase your chances), now's the time to think outside the box.
For those who can afford it, volunteering with a court or small office could be a valuable experience. Another option is to learn a relevant language. Associates with language skills are often more attractive, especially if it's a language often used in business such as Japanese or Chinese.
Even if you can't become fluent in a summer, intensive classes can help you learn enough to be conversational, which is a big step in the right direction.
But law-related experience is still king. If you don't line something up for the summer, then make sure you get some hands on experience during the school year through a clinic or internship.
Students finishing their 2L years have more time to figure out an associateship and hopefully have a resume that makes them stand out. Prepare yourself this summer so you can be in that spot this time next year.