The 3 Best Pieces of Advice For Your 1L Summer

You just finished your last 1L final exam, and you are E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D.  All you want to do is take it easy this summer because heck you deserve at least that much after what you put yourself through 1L year! We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we will be because we care about you and your future success!  You cannot take it easy 1L summer!  No way, no how. There is much to be done, and we are here to give you the 3 best pieces of advice you’ll ever receive for your 1L summer.  Follow this advice to complete everything you should over the all too short 1L summer.

NOTE: If you’re curious how the coronavirus will impact your summer 2020 summer association position, check out our thoughts here.

The 3 Best Pieces of Advice For Your 1L Summer

1. Ace your law review application.

At many law schools, the law review application process (also known as “writing on”) begins right after 1L final exam period ends.  It’s cruel, but it is reality.  Writing on can vary significantly from law school to law school.  Some law schools allow students to join law review by virtue of high grades alone.  Many law schools require students to take a Bluebook exam and to also write a casenote. They use scores from both to decide admission to law review.

As drained as you may feel after final exams, do not skip applying to law review!  Of course, it is not the end of the world if you don’t make it.  You can still work hard, earn good grades, join other law journals, and become a successful attorney.  But, it is undeniably prestigious to be selected for your school’s law review.  There are certain employers that only hire students who made law review.  It is a mark of excellence on your resume that will jump out to judges selecting law clerks, large firms selecting associates, and more.  It is worth sacrificing those days after final exams to hunker down, research, and write your casenote well. Typically, students have anywhere from seven to ten days to complete their casenotes.

You may worry if you can competently write a casenote.  Remember though that all of your competitors are drained too!  You are all in the same boat. You all just finished final exams, the May sun is shining, you all have a list of Netflix shows you’ve been waiting until the end of the semester to binge, and the last thing you all want to do is be cooped up indoors researching and writing for something that is 100% voluntary. It will be especially hard because most likely your summer internship is scheduled to start a few days after the writing on competition is over.  So do not despair that you may not be working at full steam because the name of the game is not to necessarily get a perfect score.  You just have to do better than your peers battling the same demons.

If you can persevere and ace the law review application process, you will be well rewarded.  When you get that phone call from the law review’s editor-in-chief in the middle of the summer inviting you to join the law review, you will be thrilled that you sacrificed those few days earlier in the summer.  And you’ll be thrilled that you listened to our advice!

2. Work hard during your 1L summer internship . . . BUT not too hard.

This piece of advice might sound odd but bear with us.  We, of course, recommend working hard during your 1L summer internship.  But, keep in mind that the vast majority of 1L summer internships do not result in full-time job offers for after law school.  And isn’t that full-time job offer the true goal for most law students?

1L summer internships are important because they are usually the beginning of your real-world legal experience.  They help you build an impressive resume and serve as a good topic for discussion at future interviews. They also allow you to connect with lawyers and develop your list of references Networking is hugely important in securing OCIs as well. You might even meet some of your future OCI interviewers at networking receptions.

Moreover, many states have pro bono requirements for admission to the bar. If you secure a 1L summer internship with, for example, the U.S. Attorney’s Office or another government office, you can usually knock out that requirement as early as your 1L summer!

Before you invest all of your time and energy into your 1L summer internship and burn yourself out before 2L year begins, make sure you are aware of what the internship can do for you so you can allocate your time accordingly.  And make sure you carve out enough free time during your 1L summer internship so you can follow our final piece of advice below!

Related Tip:

Many government offices will offer to assist you in completing relevant bar admission paperwork as early as your 1L summer.  And even if your internship, whether it be with a private firm or a government office, does not offer to help you, ask them to help you!  In addition to pro bono documentation, states often require signed documentation from your past legal employers.  During your 1L summer internship, reach out to your summer coordinator and try to complete this paperwork.  It will save you a lot of time and energy a couple of years down the road when you are preparing your application for admission to the bar!

3. Craft stellar resumes and cover letters for your OCI applications, and hone your interviewing skills.

Your 1L summer does not wind down, but rather it ramps up as time goes on. While you are working during your 1L summer internship, your focus should be on applying for on-campus interviews, commonly referred to as “OCIs.”  These are the interviews that lead to the 2L summer internships that lead to full-time job offers after law school.

When you get home from work during your 1L summer internship and on your weekends, you should be writing winning resumes and cover letters for your OCI applications.  These should be tailored to individual firms or offices—this is not the time for laziness and boilerplate product. In addition to all of that, you should regularly be practicing your interviewing skills.  Many law schools offer mock interviews as a way of preparing their students for OCIs. Consider taking advantage of that because OCIs are no joke.  To be even better prepared, commit to memory our list of 3 OCI mistakes that could cost you!

You’ll probably spend the first half of your summer applying for OCIs, and hopefully, you’ll spend a fair portion of August and September interviewing. Fingers crossed your cup runneth over with interviews!  Because of the time dedication that this piece of advice requires, you can understand why our second piece of advice is not to overwork during your 1L summer internship itself.

As you can see, 1L summer is not for the faint of heart.  When you’re making your 1L summer plans, remember to carve out enough time for your law review writing on competition; for working on resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills; and for doing a lot of interviewing . . . all when you’re not working hard at your 1L summer internship of course!

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