What Every 1L Should Do over 1L Winter Break
If you are reading this article, you have most likely completed your first semester of law school. Congratulations! Now that you have one semester under your belt, it is time to push forward over your 1L winter break and through the end of your second semester. But first, do take a little break!
Once you have taken a break, it is time to get back to the grind of becoming an attorney. You may be thinking, isn’t winter break like undergrad where I can just relax? Well, not exactly…. If you are looking to maximize your law school experience to become a successful attorney, below are a few things you should do over winter break.
Research Your Future
Over your 1L winter break, start defining the type of attorney you want to be. Don’t worry, your decision doesn’t have to be set in stone. However, it is important to know what general direction you would like to go. You most likely have taken torts, contracts, and property. Based on those courses, you will most likely know whether you like torts better than contracts, or vice versa. If this is the case, you know that you would rather be a personal injury attorney versus a transactional or business attorney. Maybe you went through these courses but still don’t know what type of law you want to practice. Well, your 1L summer is the perfect time to find out what type of law you want to practice.
Apply for Summer Positions NOW!
Start thinking about what you would like to do over your 1L summer. After all, summer is only about five months away! Start to reach out to law firms in the area of where you plan to stay for the summer and inquire about whether they offer 1L summer associate/internship positions. Most firms, if they hire 1Ls at all, will hire only one or two 1L students. This means two things: there will be a lot of competition, and you will want to apply early.
Believe it or not, some of the top firms across the United States are already taking 1L summer associate applications. And some applications are due in January! Don’t believe me? Check out the 1L summer associate positions listed on Glassdoor or Indeed. My 1L summer associate/internship position was obtained through Indeed.
Soon, your first semester grades will be released. Hopefully you performed well and have positioned yourself near the top of your class. If you haven’t, maybe you want to consider talking to one of our Law School Study Guide mentors. You can learn about this option here.
What if I don’t meet the GPA requirement to obtain a 1L position?
If you do not meet the GPA requirements to apply for a 1L summer associate position, don’t lose hope. You still have your second semester to increase your GPA!
Whether or not you meet the GPA requirements to apply for a big firm/company 1L summer associate position posted online, reach out to some smaller firms to just get experience. Experience at this point is more important than getting a paid summer position. If you are worried about making money, you can work another job and possibly work just part-time at a law firm. The key to your 1L summer is to get experience.
The more legal experience you get as a 1L, the more marketable you will be when you apply for 2L summer associate positions. Law firms LOVE to see that you have relevant experience because this means two things: (1) they will not have to spend as much time training you, and (2) they know that you understand what it means to work in the legal field. A key to success is obtaining legal experience as a 1L, and the winter break during your 1L year is the time to start applying for positions to get experience.
Winter break of your 1L year is the perfect time to start creating your resume. You may think that the resume you used to apply to law school is good enough to use to apply for 1L summer associate positions. However, a law school resume is quite different from other resumes you probably have created.
Should you list your GPA? What about your class rank? Should you list interests on a legal resume? The answer is…it depends (is that surprising?). I am telling you that what you put on your resume is so important; it is most likely your first impression to law firms.
I made a mistake when I applied for 2L summer associate positions. Quite frankly, the mistake probably hurt my ability to obtain interviews at top law firms in the country. I don’t want you to make the same mistake. On my resume, I listed my GPA (even though it was pretty good)! Despite my high GPA, at the end of the 2L summer associate application period, I was told by someone in the legal field that someone had seen my resume, and that I should remove my GPA. I couldn’t believe it! I had handed out over 100 resumes, and now I am being told, at the end of the application period, that I did it all wrong!
Unfortunately, you only get one chance at applying for summer associate positions. Therefore, I encourage you to get advice from people that are practicing in the legal field or those who have been through the application process. If you would like advice about what to put on your resume and how to format your resume, check out the resume review option we provide.
Networking over Your 1L Winter Break
If nothing else, during your winter break, take time to network. How should you network over winter break? Well, one of the best ways to network is to meet with attorneys face-to-face. If you have a family friend that is an attorney, ask if you can meet them for coffee to learn about what they do. Even if that attorney does not practice the type of law that you want to practice, most likely, they know an attorney that does. Once you meet with one attorney, you can respectfully ask them if they would connect you with someone that they know. As you network in this way, you will build a network of attorneys that may very well be the attorneys that help you obtain your first position as a lawyer.
Winter break of your 1L year is important! Use your 1L winter break to apply for 1L summer associate positions, draft your resume, and to network. You probably will only get one chance at being a 1L, thankfully. Take your 1L year seriously, including your winter break, for it could change your legal career for the rest of your life.