Prelaw - What Is the Timetable for Legal Recruitment?

What is the Timetable for Legal Recruitment? (It Happens Faster Than You Think!)

One day you are thinking about going to law school. Before you know it, you're a 1L, struggling to figure out what the difference between a holding and dicta. (Don't worry your law professors will explain!) And, then, before your first year is even over, you are going to have to start thinking about your career path. It all happens faster than you think!

Before Law School Begins


Key dates during your first year of law school

  • November 1: You can begin working with your career counselor.
  • December 1: You can begin applying for summer legal jobs. Since doing well in your classes is of the utmost importance, you may consider waiting until after finals are over to begin your job search.
  • Late December through early January: The period after finals and before the second semester begins is the perfect time to apply to employers and network with practitioners.
  • March - May: This is when most first-year law students secure their summer job.


What You Need to Know About Your 1L summer job search

  • Your job search effectively begins the moment you enter law school.
  • Begin learning more about legal specialties and types of legal employers.
  • Take advantage of career-related programming and opportunities to speak with practicing attorneys.
  • By the time you meet with your career counselor, you need to have thought about, and have questions related to, what type(s) of law you might want to practice, where you might want to practice, and for which types of employers. Nobody expects you to have it all figured out, but you do need to be able to intelligently discuss your interests and concerns.
  • Do not plan on making much, if any, money the summer after your first year of law school.

Large law firms pay well, but hire very few, if any, students to work the summer after their first year of law school.

Mid-sized and small law firms may provide you and your classmates more opportunities for post-first year summer jobs. Pay is typically between $10 -15 per hour.

Government agencies or public interest organizations offer many opportunities during your first-year summer. You will most likely work as an unpaid volunteer, though you might be able to receive summer funding or course credit through your law school.

Judicial externships are another option during your first-year summer. These are unpaid volunteer positions for which you might be able to receive course credit through your law school. Click here for more on working for a judge.

You might also work as a research assistant to a law professor or as an intern in a law school clinic. Research assistant positions tend to be pay between $10 - 15 per hour. Clinical positions might be paid as a federal work study position or through your school's summer public interest funding program. Clinic jobs can often be worked in exchange for course credit, as well. Hiring timelines vary from school to school.


Hiring Timelines by Employer

Different types of legal employers recruit summer and permanent employees on different timelines. Understanding when different employers hire will help you to plan ahead.

Large Law Firms

General Information

  • Summer hires are typically called "summer associates" and paid a monthly salary.

First-Year Summer

  • Large law firms hire very few students to work the summer after their first year of law school. The small number of large firms which seek to hire 1Ls will often look for those with very strong geographic ties, very high grades, or other special qualifications of interest to the firm.
  • First-year law students can begin applying to large law firms until December 1.
  • Most large law firms do not make their summer hiring decisions until February or March.

Second-Year Summer

  • Recruiting for second-year summer positions begins in August prior to the start of your second year of law school.
  • This process typically involves two rounds of interviews. The first round is through On-Campus Interviews at your school or job fairs run by your school. The second round takes place at the employer's office.
  • Not every employer visits every school, so you may need to apply directly to firms.
  • Firms typically conclude hiring by November.

Entry-Level Hiring

  • Most large law firms hire their entry-level attorneys out of their summer associate class.
  • Not every summer hire will receive a permanent offer, but most usually do.[Link to the NALP research on historical data of % of students receiving offers]
  • Offers tend to be made in September of your third year of law school.
  • Occasionally large law firms will supplement their hiring with a select few third-year law students, but overall OCI as a third-year law student offers limited choices and opportunities.

Mid-Sized and Small Law Firms

General Information

Whether mid-sized and small law firms hire summer help varies from firm to firm.

  • Summer hires are typically called "law clerks" and are paid on an hourly basis.

First-Year Summer

  • First-year law students cannot begin applying to mid-sized and small law firms until December 1.
  • For most firms of this size, you should wait to apply until after first semester grades have been released.

Second-Year Summer

  • Mid-sized and small law firm hiring timelines vary greatly. Most firms of this size do not make summer hiring decisions until the end of second semester. As many small firms do not post job openings, networking is a key way to find and secure summer and permanent positions with these types of firms.
  • Oftentimes, mid-sized and small firms will provide the opportunity to work during the school year during your second and third years of law school.

Entry-Level Hiring

  • Some mid-sized and small firms hire entry-level attorneys, but many do not.
  • Entry-level hires tend to be students that worked with the firm over the summer and during the school year.
  • It is not uncommon for firms of this size to wait until after you have graduated and passed the bar examination before making an offer for permanent employment.


Government

General Information

  • Government agencies, be they at the federal, state, or local levels, provide a number of volunteer opportunities for law students, both over the summer and during the school year.
  • Most law student government positions are unpaid. Summer funding and course credit are often available through law schools.

First-Year Summer

  • With the exception of a few specific agencies with lengthy background check requirements, you cannot begin applying to government agencies until December 1.
  • Many students wait until after first semester finals are over to begin applying.
  • Most government agencies do not begin interviewing for summer positions until January or February, and many will not complete the process until March or April.

Second-Year Summer

  • Federal government hiring may start as early as August, but tends to take place throughout the fall and sometimes even into the next semester.
  • Beginning in October and continuing into late-winter, you can pursue opportunities to interview with government agencies at national and regional job fairs.
  • State and local government hiring typically does not begin until November/December and can extend into March or April.

Entry-Level Hiring

  • Only certain federal agencies routinely hire entry-level attorneys. Those that do so primarily hire through specific federal hiring programs, such as the Honors Programs and the Presidential Management Fellows program.
  • Federal government hiring may start as early as August, but tends to take place throughout the fall and sometimes even into the next semester.
  • Beginning in October and continuing into late-winter, you can pursue opportunities to interview with government agencies at national and regional job fairs.
  • Many state and local government agencies do not hire entry-level attorneys. Those that do, such as prosecutors and public defenders offices, have timelines that vary from state to state and even county to county.
  • State and local government hiring often does not begin until November/December and can extend into March or April. Public defender and prosecutor offices may have a multiple stage hiring process that may begin in the early fall.
  • It is not uncommon for state and local agencies to wait until after you have graduated and passed the bar examination before making an offer for permanent employment.


Public Interest

General Information

  • Almost all law student public interest positions are unpaid. Summer funding or credit may be through law schools, and some funding is available from outside grants.
  • Public interest organizations provide a number of volunteer opportunities for law students, both over the summer and during the school year.

First-Year Summer

  • You cannot begin applying to public interest organizations until December 1.
  • Many students wait until after first semester finals are over to begin applying.
  • Most public interest organizations do not begin interviewing first-year law students for summer positions until January or February, and many will not complete the process until March or April.

Second-Year Summer

  • Public interest hiring begins in October and can extend into March or April.
  • Beginning in October and continuing into late-winter, you can pursue opportunities to interview with public interest employers at national and regional job fairs. Entry-Level Hiring
  • Many public interest organizations do not hire entry-level attorneys. Those that do may begin the process as early as the fall, but most are more likely to hire during the last semester of law school or after you have graduated and passed the bar examination.
  • Organizations may offer post-graduate fellowship opportunities. For fellowships designed by you, most applications need to be submitted in the fall and decisions are typically made in December or January. Other fellowships have varying timelines throughout the third year of law school.
  • Beginning in October and continuing into late-winter, you can pursue opportunities to interview with public interest employers at national and regional job fairs.


Judicial Externships/Clerkships

General Information

  • Judicial externships are volunteer positions held while in law school - over the summer and/or during the school-year.
  • Judicial clerkships are full-time paid positions held after graduation.
  • In the spring of the second year of law school, you should begin lining up judicial clerkship recommenders.

Judicial Externships

  • You should begin applying for summer judicial externships in December or January.
  • School-year judicial externships are typically handled through your law school and the application timing varies from school to school.

Federal Clerkships

  • Application materials are prepared over the summer prior to the beginning of the third year of law school and sent to judges the Tuesday after Labor Day.
  • Judges usually interview candidates in as early as mid-September and most clerkships are accepted by late-October.

State Clerkships

  • Application timelines vary from state to state and even by level of court within the state.
  • While some states require you to apply for post-graduate clerkships during the second semester of your second year of law school, others will accept applications as late as the second semester of your third year of law school. Accordingly, it is very important to research hiring timelines during your second year of law school.
National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®)
1220 19th Street NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20036-2405
(202) 835-1001 info@nalp.org
© Copyright 2017 NALP

STAY CONNECTED



View Full Site