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1L Job Season: Law Firms

J.E., 1L

Due to national rules, job search season for 1Ls kicks off December 1st. This is because the NALP rules want 1Ls to focus on their classes until late in the semester without the pressure of finding a job. In reality, it actually creates more pressure as every student cares about their first job and stresses out at not being able to contact employers. Fortunately, Yale students have less to worry about during first semester because of our grade system and we seem to do pretty well with jobs.

The December 1st jump-off date is a bit like the hunting season starting two months after the forest has already been cleaned out. In terms of summer associate jobs at law firms, 2Ls take precedent because they interview in the fall. Meanwhile, 1Ls will get any of the scraps left over. Often offices donít have any more space, and even if they do they almost never accept more than one to five 1Ls in their program. At most schools to have a shot at that handful of spots means you have to be the superstar from day one. There isnít enough game in the woods, and youíre only hunting with a crossbow.

At Yale, I have found that youíre hunting with a tank (or something powerful within the forest). First off, the Yale name opens doors in getting an in-person interview in the way that no other school can match. But perhaps more importantly to 1L peace of mind, the lack of grades first semester means that I have not been forced to differentiate myself from my peers. While my friends at other leading law schools are submitting their first semester transcripts, me and my classmates can submit a pass/fail report (thatís really pass/pass). Thatís not to say you canít differentiate yourself Ė I feel like I have Ė but itís based on your actual interests and experience, not on your first semester grades.

Ironically, the biggest hurdle Yale students often have 1L year is convincing potential employers that they are really interested in a particular office. Employers sometimes suffer from a bit of insecurity in dealing with Yale students and expect that Yalies will run off to a bigger better firm 2L year. This is a great problem to have, and I am told by 2Ls and 3Ls it can be eased by mentioning community and family ties, and other tricks youíll learn about from the Career Development Office. The CDO, by the way, helps by providing guidance in every step of the search so that when the season kicks off youíre fully armed and dangerous. They have resume editing, mock interviews, and workshops about how to apply.

There are many different jobs available, and law firms are only one type. But if you do want to pursue this path as a 1L, Yale gives you the best tools to do so, unmatched by any other school. Donít start the season unarmed and unaware Ė be ready to catch the big game.