ecuring a summer associate position at a large law firm is increasingly difficult these days. Fewer firms are visiting campus this year, and those that do participate in an On-Campus Interview program are hiring fewer students for those coveted spots. This is disheartening to be sure, but the truth is that only a small minority of students have ever been able to take advantage of this process, and there are many opportunities to gain meaningful legal experience during the crucial summer before your 3L year.
Many law students matriculate with the intention of becoming prosecutors or public defenders. Though these positions are just as competitive as BigLaw spots, perhaps more so with hiring freezes and budget cuts, the upside to this is that there is greater need than ever for volunteers to pick up the slack. Consider volunteering at your local state’s attorney or public defender’s office and you will soon find yourself getting actual courtroom experience and forging useful connections.
Legal aid foundations are even more strapped for funding as grants dry up, which means more openings for volunteers. If you aspire to work in the public interest, volunteering at a legal clinic or legal aid is essential to demonstrating your dedication, and will put you in contention for one of these competitive positions once you graduate.
Small and medium-sized law firms are always looking for law clerks, so don’t overlook this option. Not only will you gain insight into a particular area of law, you will find yourself drafting legal documents, filing motions, maybe even assisting with client interviews or depositions. These types of jobs are the most likely to lead to offers of permanent employment, so make sure you target the kinds of firms that practice the type of law that is most interesting to you.
Finally, seek out internship opportunities anywhere you can find them. Legal advocacy groups are great places to hone your skills while fighting for a cause you believe in. Check out this site for internship opportunities in areas that interest you.
Now, all of this is easier said than done, so how does one go about finding these jobs? There are a number of different online resources to help you narrow down your search: AllLegalJobs.com, Simply Hired, JD Match, and LegalSummer.com to name just a few.
It’s more important than ever that you can hit the ground running once you’ve obtained your license, so make the most of that final law school summer!