Most private-practice lawyers are members of law firms. These for-profit business organizations are typically some form of partnership or professional corporation. Law firms vary in size and practice specialties. The largest law firms have offices in cities throughout the world, and can have many lawyers practicing in all specialties.
There are a number of ways to enter private law firm practice. First, many law firms recruit law students through on-campus interviews or resume reviews coordinated through the CDO. The on-campus interviews are mostly conducted in the fall, but a few are held in the spring and at other times throughout the year. The participating firms hire students for summer associate or summer clerk positions at the conclusion of their 2L years. From the summer clerkships, the firms make offers of permanent employment to begin after graduation the following year. Some of the OCI firms also interview 3L students to begin employment after graduation, without requiring a previous clerkship. A smaller number of firms hire 1L students for summer clerkships. The CDO will have informational presentations about the on-campus interview process and will notify you about important deadlines.
Second, many law firms, particularly small and middle size law firms, do not actively recruit for summer or permanent positions, but nevertheless accept direct applications from students. The CDO can help you formulate a plan to research and identify firms that may be of interest to you. We can guide you in preparing application materials, usually a resume and cover letter. As a general rule, smaller and mid-size law firms hire for summer and permanent positions on an as-need basis. The best time to apply for these positions depends upon a number of factors, including the national and international economies. Consult the CDO for more information.