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As 2Ls return to school and become reacquainted with their classmates, “What did you do this summer?” is almost invariably the first question they ask each other. The responses span a broad range: from traveling in Europe, clerkships for judges or other unpaid internships, to paid positions within law firms. First-year law students have many questions regarding summer employment: How hard is it to get a job as a first-year law student? How important is it? Are there any paid positions? The cycle begins in December, when first-year students are first allowed to contact prospective employers regarding summer employment. School and ABA regulations prohibit any contact with prospective employers before December 1. Early December is a particularly inconvenient time, as 1Ls are frantically preparing for their first law school exams. Still, the “go-getters” check online listings for positions accepting 1Ls, and send out a flood of resumes to those firms and any other firm they’ve already researched. Most students, however, completely ignore this first cycle and opt to concentrate on preparing for exams. Many students contemplate searching for jobs over winter break but are simply too tired and burnt out from exams to do any active job searching. Some prepare their materials at the beginning of the second semester and participate in the small OCI (on-campus interviewing) process open to 1Ls. But these spots are limited, and only the well-prepared 1Ls that already have good resumes usually obtain a position from this process. There is also a substantial OCI for public interest positions. The majority of students will wait until late in the second semester to start actively pursuing a job. It comes as no big surprise that many firms also wait until the last minute to post positions for summer law clerks, so there is a last-minute frenzy of postings and applications. All students pursuing employment have to weigh a considerable number of factors: What type of work do they want? Are they interested in public interest law? Can they afford to take a non-paid position? There are a limited number of stipends or fellowships for public interest positions, but for the most part, a student interested in an unpaid position either for a public interest institution or a clerkship for a judge will have to find his or her own means of support. For some, that means parental or spousal support; for others it means taking on a second job either part time all summer or splitting the first and second half of their summer between paid and unpaid positions, such as working part time for Lexis or legal temping. Some students feel that good experience their first-year summer is so critical that they will endure the hardship of obtaining a second job. Other students will opt for better-paying positions unrelated to the legal field. There are paying jobs for first-year law students in the legal field; one just has to be diligent about searching for one, and one has to disregard other opportunities that don’t provide compensation as “not an option,” to obtain some experience to put on resumes. The Hastings Career Services office stresses that experience is critical for 1Ls who have no experience in the legal field, as that will affect their success in OCI the next fall.

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