Preparation and outworking your peers are the secret ingredients to getting ahead. Here’s what those words mean.
This post is directed at the rising 2L who just finished the school year and is headed toward their first summer as a fancy “law student intern.” I know it’s October now, but come back to this post when you are finishing 1L. As of now, this can serve as a good outline of what to keep in mind over the next few months. Yes, grades are the most important thing in your life right now, but it does not hurt to keep the end goal in mind.
All About the Post-2L Summer
Here’s what I think you should do after your 1L year: focus on the post-2L summer internship. I know, you will just started a post-1L summer job and want to make a good impression. If your current summer internship is exactly what you want to be doing the next summer – and possibly after graduation – then go full steam ahead. Ask everyone you see to lunch or coffee, meet as many people as possible, and do whatever you can to make a good impression (have the “can do” attitude).
But let’s say you took a position just because it is legal experience (which is good) for this summer but want to work at a biglaw firm next summer, for example. You need to tell yourself right now that the focus of this summer is to set yourself up for as many interviews, callbacks, and offers as you can by the time Labor Day of 2L year rolls around.
If you start right after 1L year, you can out-hustle your peers who did better than you in 1L. I know you don’t want to admit that other people did better than you – law school breeds this type of competitiveness – but acknowledge what happened and move on. Maybe you are, in fact, one of those people who did better than most in their first year. Congratulations – now it’s time to cash in on that success and land a high-paying job. If you were middle of the road (to be precise, I was .03 above the median GPA after 1L year), then you need to work harder.
What Does Working Harder Mean?
What does working harder mean? It means sacrificing your time. You should find time to meet with as many people as you can from any law firm in town. This will be complicated if you are far away from where you want to be next summer and after graduation. That said, phone calls are fine. They’re not ideal but talking to a lawyer on the phone will do just fine. Here’s the action plan for right now:
- Locate – find lawyers from your law school and undergrad on big firms’ websites.
- List – make a list of lawyers in an excel spreadsheet with something like:Name
- Year of Graduation
- Undergrad/Law School
- Practice Group
- Something interesting you could reference in an email
- Outreach – once you have the list ready to go (start with 5 lawyers and then start your outreach), prepare emails to their work email address, which should be available on the law firm website.
Never doubt the ability of being an enthusiastic and eager student who is working on their own to make a connection. When I was a 1L, I was scared, nervous, and shy. You don’t have to be. In fact, it’s better if you take a deep breath and realize that you are in the same situation as almost everyone else who went to law school. Yes it sounds corny but we are all in this together. Remember that and take action.
Do something within the next 5 minutes to make progress towards landing a biglaw summer associate gig. Tell me what you did in the comments. I wish you way more than luck.