Ah…first years. Craig's article below triggered a memory from this fall semester. It was mid October and Fall Recruiting was grinding to a halt. As I closed in on accepting an offer for summer employment, I thought it'd be a wise move to run everything by a career counselor. Judging by the line, it looked as though many others had the same idea.
"Can I help you?" asked the receptionist to the person at the head of the line.
"Yes. I'd like to make an appointment for early November," the student nervously responded.
"What year are you?"
"I'm a first year," the student answered.
The student must be lost, I surmised, thinking he had accidently stumbled into the CDO looking for the fabled rooftop swimming pool. The receptionist would surely correct him and send his dejected soul back to the library.
"And this concerns what?"
"Summer employment," the first year announced.
Summer employment? Clearly, I thought, this must be the class gunner. Gotta get a leg up on the rest of the class, right? There's always one of 'em. But to my astonishment this series of questions and answers continued through the line until I finally made it to the front.
I didn't know what to think. Are all first years this annoying…er, ambitious? Was I like this as a first year? Well, I'm currently writing as a contributing editor to a legal blog, so I suppose I must have been.
But, nonetheless, I couldn't help but be frustrated. Fall recruitment wasn't kind. I know of many exceptionally intelligent law students who were left disappointed. They deserved better, but this economy simply chewed them up and spit them out. And yet these first year law students, who weren't much beyond learning how to tie their shoelaces, were gunning for firm jobs? It just seemed preposterous.
I realize Craig's article focused on summer employment in general and was not limited to summer associate positions. Nonetheless, securing a firm job certainly seems to be the main focus for many first years. Apparently (and unsurprisingly) there are many who, despite donning their finest Brooks Brothers suits and splurging on the fanciest of resume paper, failed to secure a summer associate position. Hey, everyone can't be "nervous t-10 1L" of the Above The Law fame.
So, what are they to do? Crawl into the fetal position and hope for the best? Personally, I think any 1L upset that they were unable to procure a summer associate position needs to step back and put things in perspective. Quit complaining and be proactive. Judging from recent events, a coveted firm job might not be waiting for you next summer, let alone this one.
Be willing to work for…here it comes, get ready for it…FREE. Land a judicial internship. Work for the DOJ. Research for a professor. You'll find something. It's all about getting the experience. Write. Research. Watch a trial. Learn. Make yourself as marketable as possible.
I propose that you focus on three goals for the summer. First, produce a top notch memorandum/brief that will make a strong writing sample for you to use in fall recruitment. Second, make sure to network. Form at least one connection with an attorney who is willing to act as a mentor and as a reference. And, lastly, make sure to have some fun. Find interesting work that you enjoy. Stop stressing out, and relax. It's the summer we’re talking about here!