By Chris Nikitas, Esq., BARBRI Legal Education Advisor
Alright, you don’t have a summer job. Whether you’re a 1L or 2L student, this is a rather scary position. First thing’s first. In the words of Douglas Adams, “don’t panic.” Especially in your first year of law school, having a legal job during the summer isn’t an end-of-the-world scenario. I hosted bar exam trivia during my 1L summer. A prominent scholar I know – who shall remain anonymous – taught tennis lessons. The fact is, you can make up for not having a job in a number of ways and here are a few ideas.
DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL
Okay, maybe when final exams wrap up, you don’t have a job but do not give up. Get out there. Go to legal aid societies, public interest firms, non-profit organizations and start handing out resumes like they’re flyers for a local band. You may get a late start, but you’ll still get to add a valuable line to your resume. At the very least, you’ll get your name circulated and show potential employers that you’re proactive.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NETWORKING EVENTS
One of the biggest benefits of a summer job is the networking opportunities; however, you can still network outside of a summer job. There will be networking events all summer for young lawyers and law students. Do some investigating, find some to attend and start slinging around business cards like there’s no tomorrow. You’ll be surprised how quickly these can turn into possible employment leads in the future.
MAKE UP FOR IT DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR
Your school has opportunities to provide you with experience during the year: Field placements, internships and externships. Talk with your career services office to find out what the school can offer you as far as placement help. You’ll get some course credit at the same time, too. Consider taking a litigation or drafting class for some realistic experience that you can add to your cover letter and resume.
SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS
One of your professors may still need research assistants or may introduce you to someone who would like some summer help. Your professors might even have more sage advice on how to find that elusive summer job.
Above all else, remember, this is not by any means the end of your law school career. Part of my 1L summer, I worked for career services during On Campus Interviews, serving as a runner between the interview rooms. I ate lunch with the attorneys and spoke with them more each day than anyone they interviewed. As a result, I left that week with a stack of business cards that turned into valuable new contacts. I was able to utilize them in the coming years. Just keep at it!