1L: How the First Year of Law School Is Like an Avocado

The three years of law school are kind of like the three avocados I bought at the supermarket last week. The first was the most important. It turned into all sorts of fun stuff like guacamole and omelet toppings. I ate a bit of the second one from fear of wasting food. Finally, the third one is pretty moldy and I should probably throw it out.

Likewise, law school may take three years, but only one year really counts: the first year. Here’s why…

After your very first semester at law school you’ll send out job applications for the following summer. Your chances of landing a job with a legal theme will depend almost entirely on these first semester grades. Going through your first summer without a legal job would be a disaster.

At the end of your summer job, with your first year law school grades in hand, you’ll go into your school’s on-campus interview process (OCI) to start on the road to permanent legal employment.

At OCI, you’ll try to get an offer for a summer associateship (SA). This SA should turn into an offer for full-time, permanent employment, unless something really unfortunate happens – like the legal market tanks, or you have a bit too much fun at an SA event and they end up naming a new pole dancing routine in your honor.

That’s right. Legal hiring happens two years before you graduate law school, and it all depends on your first year grades.

So what’s the point of the second and third years? I’m not really sure. Even President Obama thinks it’s a good idea to chuck the third year of law school, and he’s bros with a bunch of law school deans.

For a more in depth guide to law school hiring, but with fewer references to lewd dance moves and overripe avocados, check out this article on legal recruiting from the National Association for Law Placement.

4 Responses

  1. Seattleite Who Must Not Be Named says:

    Although Yuko is right that OCI is an important event and can lead to a job further (soon!) down the line, I want to add some nuance and caveat to the position that not getting a law firm job during the first year is an unmitigated disaster.

    It depends on what you, the student, want to do. If law firm employment is the end goal, cool – but that’s not the only option. There are hundreds of meaningful organizations and government agencies that seek interns and externs well into spring of your second year. Comparitively, OCI happens in August/September for most schools. If OCI doesn’t go well (and grades *aren’t* the only indicators of whether you’ll get hired), it’s not the end of the world. Only a small percentage of students get jobs through OCI. That doesn’t spell doom and gloom for the remaining majority. It’s also worth noting here that many cities and regions have small, mid-size, and boutique law firms that don’t show up to OCI — assuming that “law firm” is your definition of “legal employment.”

    So many people assume that a legal career is a straight trajectory like Yuko describes above. And for some people – a generally small minority – it is. But even a quick search for legal employment in X city turns up a good deal more possibilities than that. As lawyers, it’s our job to be creative and think outside the box – that may start with our own legal employment, too. You may be surprised.

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