Hey 1Ls: Finals Are Almost Here but It's Time to Start Job Hunting

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 04, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Outlines? Nearly done. Practice questions? In progress. Thanksgiving plans? Cancelled. Christmas and New Year's plans? Likely alcoholic. But first: finals.

Bu wait: What about your 1L summer? Take it from me, kids: You need to be digging for a gig. And even if you do dig, there are pretty high odds that you'll find nothing of note, thanks to, you know, the economy and all. But still, try.

What's that? Me? Don't get me started on my 1L summer: It involved reppin' Mandarin-speaking prostitutes (no hablo) and writing a movie based on someone else's plot-line -- a movie that, in retrospect, sounds a lot more like an adult film than a female-empowerment drama. I was used!

Anyway, the past is past. You need to know this: You're about to hit the first important date for job-hunting, which is, of course, right around finals. Are you ready?

(Official) Start Line: December 1

It used to be that NALP (the National Association for Law Placement) and judges conspired to be very controlling of law students. There was some official hiring plan that no longer exists that said when and where students were allowed to beg for clerkships.

Now, the only people who suffer under the yoke of "you shall not apply early" are 1Ls. The ABA, NALP, and the rest of 'em say that career services shouldn't even be speaking to you until some time in October, and employers are barred from speaking to you until December 1 (except certain federal positions which require security clearance).

(Real) Start Line: Now

You can't talk to employers yet, but you do want to hit the ground running. Why? There are a lot of you (1Ls) and fewer positions with firms and judges than ever before. You want your resume and cover letters ready to go when December 1 hits so that your materials will be on the judges' and firms' desks before anybody else's are.

That means now is the time to work on your resume. You should also be using NALP to look up firms that you'd be interested in working for (based on geography, practice areas, and whether they hire 1Ls).

If you're the public service type (and with student loan debt, who isn't?), your career services office should have a long list of websites and directories (PSLawNet, Idealist.org, and more) full of agencies you can apply to. Ditto for judges. One small note: You'll want to apply for positions in places where you have rent-free housing, unless you are independently wealthy, as paid public interest or judicial gigs are not actually a thing.

The research alone, and the building of massive lists (for a mail merge, perhaps?) is going to take the most time. Not only does doing it now mean you'll be ready on December 1, but it also means you won't be stressing over it during finals.

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