Why Working During Your 1L Summer Boosts Your Career

Working During your 1L summer

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The warm rays and lazy days of summer may seem far away to most, but law students must begin planning for the summer now. While few law students plan to spend the summer lounging on the beach, some students think summer school is the way to go. While the chance to save money or graduate earlier may appeal to you, resist it. Unless you have extraordinary circumstances, taking a job or internship is a much better choice for your career. This post will explain how working during your 1L summer helps your career.

Many 1L students avoid summer work because most 1L positions don’t pay. While everyone wants to get paid, in the law, experience is currency. The experience gained from a summer job will improve your resume which will allow you to earn more money in the future. So, even an unpaid experience is worth its weight in gold.

While all students benefit from work experience, African American law students should make a special effort to gain work experience. As previously explained on this blog, the legal profession lacks diversity.   The lack of diversity leads to bias in hiring and other areas. According to NALP, non-white law grads are more likely to be unemployed than their white peers. So, African American law students must make themselves stand out at every step.

Here are just a few ways that working during your 1L summer will help your legal career.

1. Working Sets You Apart

If you had to hire someone to fix your car, you wouldn’t hire someone who’d never worked on a car. Similarly, legal employers want students who know how to write, research, and argue. Doing those things in class or in moot court is fine, but employers want to know that you can apply these skills in the real world. Working during your 1L summer will give you real world skills and set you apart from students who don’t have them.

2. Working Gets You a Writing Sample

Nearly every legal employer asks for a writing sample. Many 2L students use memos drafted in a writing course as their samples. Imagine how much more impressive it is to use a sample that comes from a real case. A real-world sample will demonstrate your writing ability and your ability to apply it to complex facts.

3. Working Gets You a Reference

In addition to writing samples, legal employers want references. You may plan to use a professor as a reference. However, many employers want a professional reference from a legal employer. Working during your 1L summer will get you that reference.

4. Working Builds Your Professional Network

The legal profession is insular. Networking helps young attorneys find out about positions. A phone call from the right person can open doors. Working during your 1L summer will introduce you to lawyers who can assist you in your early career and beyond.

5. Working Opens Doors

An intern’s life is not glamourous, but the experience opens doors. Many firms and agencies hire their summer interns for permanent positions. So, 1L internships not only help students during law school, they help students get hired after graduation.

6.  Working Teaches You New Areas of the Law

Law school lasts three years. Though those three years sometimes seem like forever, in reality, it’s quite short. No student can learn every area of the law in three years. However, work experiences can introduce you to new areas of the law. Not only will this knowledge help you in your job search, it may also help you in your law school classes.

7. Working Helps You Learn What You Like

When you entered law school, you likely had an idea of what areas of the law interested you. But an internship might change your mind. The practice of law varies widely depending on the practice area, the type of employer, the location, and other factors. Being a transactional lawyer is different than being a litigator. Practicing criminal law is different than practicing family law. Working for the government is different than working for a private firm. Use your 1L summer to explore different things and refine your career goals.

In sum, spending your 1L summer at a job or internship will help your legal career. You might not get paid, but you will gain experience, references, and other valuable professional tools. When you need career advice, turn to The African American Attorney Network. The Network is committed to helping African American law students excel.