We've fielded quite a few questions recently from 1Ls regarding what 1L summer opportunities are out there and how to find them, and I thought it was worth addressing from the employer side of things. Some of this may repeat (or hopefully reinforce) what Angela has already communicated, and if so please bear with me.
You'll hear Angela and I both refer to your 1L summer as your "networking summer." That might not mean the exact same thing for all of you, but the gist of it is you want to find an opportunity that will allow you to work with and around people who can help you down the line with your 2L clerkship and/or full-time job.
These opportunities typically will be with an employer that will NOT hire you full-time out of law school. That's okay! In fact it would be unusual for the opposite to be true. So some of the questions you ought to be asking are: 1) where do I want to practice and 2) what type of law do I want to practice? Ideally, you'd find a 1L opportunity which satisfied the answers to both questions. For example, if you want to practice commercial litigation in Dallas, ideally you'd find a 1L opportunity in Dallas working in commercial litigation. The next best thing would be to work in the city you want to work in rather than the practice area. So if you couldn't find a commercial litigation opportunity in Dallas, look for something else in Dallas rather than commercial litigation in another city. Remember this is your networking summer, so the people you meet are going to be more important than anything else.
I would also encourage you to broaden the scope of possible employers within your given location/practice area. Often you'll have more luck finding a 1L opportunity with a business or government agency than you will with a law firm. Since many law firm clerkships won't provide much in the way of client interaction, internships with businesses can often give you an even broader network of contacts that can help you down the line.
What if you don't know where you want to be or what you want to practice? Well, if you really dig down deep and think about it, you probably have at least a top 2 or 3 list for each (e.g. 1. Dallas, 2. Houston, 1. Commercial litigation, 2) criminal defense). If you're not at least to that place I suggest you try and get there quickly. Then this first summer maybe you find a criminal defense opportunity in Dallas or a commercial litigation opportunity in Houston. Either would allow you to confirm or deny your interest in the city/practice area, which in and of itself is helpful in your job search process.
Finally, how do you go about finding the 1L opportunities? As we've said, most law firms don't even offer them and those who do rarely post them. The first thing I would suggest is go back and re-read Angela's email to you from December 2nd. It has great information about where to look for postings as well as the process many law firms follow in hiring 1Ls. The other point I would make is to echo what alum Jeff Domen said in the Professionalism Panel Thursday: you have to stand out! He receives tens of emails from people wanting a job and they all go in the trash. He suggested coming by the office and asking to see someone and being willing to wait patiently in the lobby until someone can see you, even if it takes all day. That might sound strange, and sure it may even turn off some employers, but for Jeff and many others it's a way to stand out and make sure your resume avoids the trash and rises to the top.
What other questions do you have about pursuing 1L opportunities? Let me know at [email protected] or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.