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Types Of Summer Jobs And How To Find Them

published May 26, 2023

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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( 26 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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If you are not on an early graduation plan that will include classes during the summer break, then you need to seek employment that will enhance your legal education and hopefully increase your future employment options. Although first-year students are understandably worn, having survived the first year of battle, they cannot afford either financially, or future-placement-wise, to sit idle or endure unrelated employment.

Types Of Summer Jobs And How To Find Them

The search for pertinent summer employment opportunities should begin with the career services office of the law school attended. Career services should be able to closely estimate your chances of employment as well as assist you in matching your interests with the openings available. Career services can also help you develop a resume for that first important legal endeavor. Many students do not utilize their law school's career services office enough. Let career services help you, from day one, to present yourself in a professional manner.

Once you have created a good resume and have access to known job openings, practice your interview skills on others before you have to perform without a net. Present a confident and friendly personality to the interviewer. It always helps to have done some research on the organization you are interviewing with. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you can demonstrate your knowledge of the firm by asking questions that reflect your interest and research. For example, one friend who had done some background homework on a firm he was interested in working for learned later that he had obtained the position because he knew how many partners there were and the specialty of the firm's practice.

Depending on the student's career ambitions, there are many employment opportunities available to the students for the summer.

See Also: How to Answer the “Tell Me about Yourself” Interview Question

Summer Associate Positions:

Once you have acquired a position with a firm as a summer associate, you will rapidly realize that most of the jobs you are given are not very glamorous. Many firms will consider your first year of legal training to be just enough knowledge to make you a danger to them and to yourself. You will probably not be in direct contact with clients; nor will you really be allowed to work on any material of a critical nature. You will probably file, make copies, make frequent trips to the courthouse, and on rare occasion, actually do some legal research on matters that the firm feels you are capable of handling.

It is not real hands-on experience in learning how to practice law, but it does show you how a firm operates on a day-to-day basis. You are, in essence, doing your apprenticeship, starting with the equivalent of sweeping the stockroom floor. By starting out at the bottom, you will obtain a fairly accurate overview of each person's contributions to the operation of the office. This inside view will later serve you well as you will be in a better position to determine if you would like to stay with this firm should the opportunity arise.

Often a student will find that he or she enjoys working for a firm, and that the firm values his or her contributions. What was once only a summer position becomes a part-time position that continues beyond the end of summer.

Part-Time Law Clerk Positions:

Part-time law clerk positions are simply extended versions of summer associate positions. Instead of having a large amount of free time to pursue employment activities as a student does during the summer, it's entirely different for a student to find time to go to school, study, and hold an outside job. It becomes a very serious juggling act trying to combine the expectations of school with the duties of work.

One former clerk remembers having been assigned a paper in class that was due the following week; it was going to be a very extensive and time-consuming task. At the same time the law firm where he was employed was entering a very critical phase of litigation concerning a matter into which it had invested a considerable amount of time and money. The clerk was literally torn in half with each taskmaster expecting 100 percent. He explained the situation to his supervising attorney at the firm, at which point the firm shifted a lot of the burden to others until he could complete the law school assignment. At times like this, law students must remember that their first goal is to graduate and to perform to the best of their ability in law school. They must set priorities and spend scarce resources appropriately.

How much money can a student expect to make while clerking for a law firm? First, it will not be enough to meet your expenses; you will remain a starving student. Second, and this should not really come as much of a surprise to you, you are really clerking to obtain experience and contacts for later usage, not for financial gain. You are there to learn, not to earn. The pay received is generally hourly, with the exact amount readily discoverable by contacting the career services office or by checking the posted job board. Usually the pay is slightly above minimum wage, with no additional financial perks.

Public Interest Organizations & Government Agencies:

Working for such organizations and government agencies fills one with a sense of self-worth for there is a lot of intrinsic significance and merit in working for organizations that endorse and uphold justice for the underprivileged section of society, who would otherwise be denied the opportunity owing to their poor socio-economic status. These positions offer unmatched matter-of-fact know-how for the law student and put him or her on a strong footing when they begin actual practice later. Areas where students can seek work are the American Civil Liberties Union, Legal Defense Fund, Public Defender Offices, The Department of Justice, State attorneys' general offices and Legal Aid Offices.

Although the experience that the students will receive will be invaluable, many of these organizations cannot afford to pay their summer interns and hence it will basically be working for free. However, the contacts built during the association with such organizations and agencies come in extremely useful when you are scouting for jobs after completion of law school.

In-House Counsel:

Students can also seek positions with law-firms or in-house legal departments to tide them over the summer. Not only do they provide them with experience of how law-firms work, students can also be expected to be paid well for their efforts. It is important to identify these firms well in advance as they normally hire much earlier than the government agencies.

Students should check the NALP directory to find which of their members is hiring and then approach them through letters. However, you stand a better chance with mid-size and smaller firms that may not be NALP members and will naturally not be listed with them. There will not be too many people making a beeline for them and your chances of getting a summer job will increase.

Judicial Internships/ Externships:

A judicial internship is the summer comparable to a conventional post-graduate judicial clerkship, save that this does not pay you anything. However, this should not dishearten you. Mind you, these are exceptional jobs and will be of particular value to students desirous of pursuing a career in litigation or to make legal contacts in a society or area where they will eventually be practicing.

Research Assistantships for Professors:

Many students stay back at the school to assist their professors in a variety of projects. Professors are happy for the extra hand in helping them update casebooks or help in researching material for their latest law review articles. Not only will it provide you with great experience the professor will give you very flattering letters of recommendation and will be an optimistic source of reference for your career.

Working Abroad:

Many year hundreds of students opt for internships, out of American shores in Asia and Europe. These provide an insight into entire new working cultures and are relatively easier to get as the competition for this is comparatively lesser than for summer jobs within the US.

Although many job opportunities are available, there is intense competition amongst the students to get them. Hence you should tailor strategy accordingly.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published May 26, 2023

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 26 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.