Celebration is in order for finishing your first year of law school! So settle into your 1L summer positions, and then, yes, start thinking about 2L summer positions. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever have a more robust opportunity than 2L recruiting season to explore careers in private practice, so we’re providing our top tips to help rising 2Ls broaden and diversify their summer opportunities.
First, we’ll share a bit about our hiring process. There are two avenues for securing a 2L summer associate position at Skadden: early summer applications and on-campus interviews (OCI). We bifurcated our approach several years ago to relieve the compression of the OCI and callback period, which created more time for dialogue with students. We believe the increase of meaningful interaction improves decision making. Additionally, offering students the ability to interview with us outside of OCI frees them up to bid on additional firms, and allows them to interview with more firms than they otherwise would have been able to through OCI alone. Learn more about these options, including suggestions for what to consider when deciding the path that’s best for you, by watching our recent webinar, “Carving Your Path to Skadden.”
In the meantime, here are Skadden’s top tips for leveraging your network:
- Current and Prior Summer Associates
Reach out to students who are working at, or have worked at, your firms of interest for their “insider’s view” on how their programs are run and candid descriptions of the firms’ cultures. Your classmates are one of your most trusted resources as you prepare for and engage in the hiring process.
- Attorneys Met On-Campus
Even if you’re unsure whether the attorneys you met at 1L events will remember you, feel welcome to drop them a note to thank them for joining the event and to ask a thoughtful question or two about their firms and/or hiring processes. If they took the time to attend campus events, it’s likely they will welcome your inquiry. If they can’t get back to you, they’ll ask their hiring team to do so—either way, you’ll be on their radars just ahead of hiring season. To avoid appearing insincere, don’t contact more than a couple of attorneys from the same law firm.
- Law Firm Recruiting Managers
All communications about candidates end up in the hands of law firm recruiters. Most have systems to track application histories and relationships with candidates across all of their offices. If you have attended any of their events, the chances are solid that they know who you are. Embrace this, and develop a relationship with the recruiting team through the hiring process. If you’re interested in exploring multiple practice areas or geographic locations, they’ll be your best resource to assist in identifying all of the opportunities available to you at their firms.
- Career Development Counselors
Your school’s office of career development is full of resources to assist with your preparations for interviewing and for evaluating job offers. Be sure to review their resources and participate in their programming, as these are developed from many years of experience placing students with law firms. Even if you have unique circumstances or interests, the chances are quite good that they’ve seen it (and if not, they have solid relationships with law firm recruiters and can reach out on your behalf).
- Law School Alumni
Research the current positions of law school alumni for insights on the varied opportunities and paths drawn by graduates, but be strategic about reaching out to them. When doing so, always point out how you’re connected beyond having attended the same school and include a specific ask, such as advice for seeking positions in a particular practice or region, a brief informational chat, or an introduction to their hiring team.
- Law Faculty and Adjunct Professors
Don’t forget that your classrooms are full of resources, particularly your professors who currently work in private practice. While the nature of your relationship will dictate whether you ask them to refer you to an employer, it’s certainly within bounds to ask for their views on a firm’s capabilities and platform, or insights on a firm’s reputation or culture.
- Family and Friends
This may be the group on which you rely the most, as they can help you identify or articulate your interests and goals as they listen to you share the information you’ve gathered through the process. Of course, don’t be shy about reaching out to family friends or neighbors who are lawyers—the chances are quite good they’ll be happy to help. Regardless of whether this network has lawyers or not, don’t undervalue the advice of those who know you best!
Lastly, we encourage you to focus on using your network to find a firm that feels right for you rather than changing yourself to fit a mold you think a firm wants. An honest experience is the best one for you and your career. Law school teaches you about legal concepts, but your law firm will teach you about the craft. Use the resources outlined above, but don’t rest your decision on any one source alone. In the end, the decisions of where to apply and which offer to accept are yours. So ask yourself the following as you progress through the process: Do you want to learn from the people you’ve met at the firm? Do you feel that the firm is a place where you can contribute? Does the firm offer a platform where you can thrive? It’s our goal to hire students who truly want to be Skadden lawyers and are genuinely excited about contributions they can make to our practices. Feel free to reach out to us directly to start the conversation about any of the full Summer Associate Programs in our Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Toronto offices. We invite you to apply online, contact our Attorney Recruiting Group, or contact your career development office to participate in on-campus interviews. We look forward to hearing from you.