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2L summer

What To Do During Your 2L Summer Of Law School

As a traditional law student at a three-year law school, you have two summer “breaks.” The first is between your first and second years of law school (your “1L summer”). The second is between your second and third years of law school (your “2L summer”).  Obviously, your summers are a time to take a break from the pressure of case briefing, the Socratic method, and issue-spotter exams.

However, you should also treat your summers as valuable learning opportunities.  In fact, your summers can effectively function as additional law school “semesters” where you can begin to apply your legal training to practical, real-world situations.  We’ve discussed in another post what you should focus on during your 1L summer.  In this post, we’ll offer some advice for law students trying to decide how to spend their 2L summer.

What To Do During Your 2L Summer Of Law School

1L Summer vs. 2L Summer

Many students spend their 1L summer in an unpaid internship or unpaid judicial clerkship.  These can be intellectually stimulating, rewarding, and, in many cases, fun experiences.  The 1L summer is more about gaining exposure to the legal field in general and less about honing in on your future possible practice.

The 2L summer is a bit different.  Many students spend their 2L summer in a paid position at a place where they eventually hope to work, whether that’s at a law firm, a district attorney’s office or public defender’s office, a government agency, or a public interest legal organization.

How you choose to spend your 2L summer will depend on what type of legal practice you’re interested in.  Let’s review some of the most popular options.

Summer Associate At A Law Firm

If you plan to work for a large law firm, then you should focus on pursuing a 2L summer associate position.  Most large regional and national law firms hire their first-year associate classes from their summer programs, so if you aspire to work at a firm, a summer associate position is a step in the right direction.

Most firms use on-campus interviews (“OCIs”) to recruit and hire their summer associates.  OCIs are typically held at law schools at the end of the 1L summer, and the application deadline is usually in late July or early August (or sooner).  In other words, you should start thinking about whether you want a 2L summer associate position in the early weeks of your 1L summer.

Students who make the first cut at OCIs will usually be invited to the firm for a callback interview, and successful candidates will be extended an offer.  A summer associate position is effectively an extended interview—for the firm to get to know you, and vice versa.

If you’re interested in learning more about spending 2L summer at a law firm, check out our post on how to stand out as a summer associate!

District Attorney or Public Defender’s Office

If you’re interested in working as a prosecutor or public defender, you should explore opportunities with a district attorney’s office or public defender’s office for your 2L summer.  Occasionally, larger offices use OCIs to recruit law students, but for smaller offices, you should inquire about summer opportunities through their website, over the phone, or in person.

Generally speaking, these offices do not make formal employment offers to 2Ls at the completion of their summers, but a summer position will help you get your foot in the door and allow attorneys in the office to get to know you and your work product.  If you make a positive impression, you increase your chances of returning to the office as an attorney the following year.

Public Interest

If you’re interested in working in public interest law, you should research individual organizations that appeal to you and determine what summer positions they offer.  Larger, more established public interest legal organizations usually have summer fellowships or other programs for law students.  These can be highly competitive, so you may want to start thinking about what you’re interested in and start researching relevant organizations during your 1L summer.

General Advice

Keep in mind that 2L summer positions are temporary.  Yes, some may lead to permanent employment. However, if you decide at the end of the summer that you want your career to go in a different direction, that’s totally fine.  For example, you might find that after working as a summer associate at a firm, you’re more interested in government-type work.  Or, you might find that after a summer working for a district attorney’s office, you’re more interested in working in private practice.  It’s important to know that you have options.  Your summers are meant for exploration! Many government agencies, like the Department of Justice, have programs specifically designed for rising 3Ls who are seeking employment after graduation. Additionally, many large law firms conduct OCIs at the end of the 2L summer for law students interested in first-year associate positions.

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