The summer after 1L year is a valuable time to gain hands-on practice experience in the legal industry. From firm fellowships to in-house opportunities to nonprofit internships and more, there are many options to consider. We gathered a group of Latham associates and asked about their 1L summer fellowship experiences, as well as any advice they have for 1Ls on the job hunt.
What was your 1L fellowship opportunity like?
Tina Jeon (New York): I participated in the inaugural Latham 1L Fellowship Program in Latham's Chicago office. For the first half of the summer, I worked alongside associates on a range of transactional deals, with the same responsibilities as a 2L summer associate. During the second half of the summer, I joined the in-house legal team at a client of the firm. This combined experience helped me quickly understand some of the tangible aspects of legal practice, as well as the business of law. One of the things that set Latham apart for me was their Diversity Leadership Academy, which is attended by Latham attorneys from around the globe and open to law students who are not Latham-bound. The programs were acutely tailored to 1Ls, and the firm was extraordinarily transparent, which showed a lot of integrity.
Joey De Leon (Los Angeles): I spent my 1L summer working in-house for Pacific Gas & Electric Company. One of the most meaningful parts of the experience was the relationship I established with the general counsel (a former Latham lawyer). He reviewed my resume, helped me prepare for interviews, and shared his insights about the practice of law. Because of what I learned from him, I actually ended up putting Latham at the top of my list for OCI bidding.
Blake Berkey (Houston): I externed for a judge during my 1L summer and then spent a week as a summer fast track associate at a firm in Dallas. The program was intended to expose 1Ls to the firm at a high level. Not only was it a good peek behind the curtain, but it also helped prepare me for on-campus interviews because I was a bit more knowledgeable about the practice of law.
Irene Fedoseienko (San Diego): I was a 1L fellow at a firm in San Francisco. I’m a first-generation professional and don’t have any attorneys in my family. It was important for me to figure out how to navigate working at a big law firm. Being a summer associate as a 1L was an opportunity to get that experience early. It also helped shape the remainder of my time in law school, including what courses I took in my 2L year.
Mackenzie Tudor (Boston): I was a 1L fellow at a firm in Seattle. I got to work on a variety of matters, participate in all the events, and really get to know the firm culture. The program allowed 1Ls to learn about different areas of practice, and I was also able to gain insight into what to look for in law firms during OCI.
How did you land your 1L fellowship opportunity?
Tina Jeon: A group of Latham attorneys visited our school for a “lunch-and-learn.” They were welcoming, engaging, and prepared to answer many questions we did not even know we had at the time. I kept in touch with one of the Latham partners from the event, and he became a valued mentor.
Joey De Leon: The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity is a great resource. It has a number of corporate members who post about initiatives and opportunities at their companies.
Mackenzie Tudor: From a process perspective, applications generally open in December, and you begin submitting soon after finals. In addition to sending your resume and transcript, you are typically required to submit a short essay about why you’d be a good fit for the firm. If you progress, you’ll have a series of interviews, either via video or in-person.
What did you look for in a 1L fellowship opportunity?
Tina Jeon: Having worked in the business world both domestically and internationally after undergrad, the opportunity to work in-house with a client—which Latham’s 1L Fellowship offered—was a meaningful attraction for me. This joint endeavor between Latham and its clients speaks to the firm's breadth of strong client relationships and its commitment to train and work with 1Ls.
Irene Fedoseienko: I sought a position that would provide growth and professional development in an office with a healthy mixture of practices. I wanted a place that would allow me to try different areas of the law, narrow down my interests, and figure out my plans for 2L summer.
Mackenzie Tudor: Substantive work. Some 1L opportunities only involve administrative work, but I wanted to do as much real legal work as possible. I also wanted the opportunity to do pro bono work, where I could give back and also refine my legal skills.
What advice do you have to 1Ls currently looking for 1L summer opportunities?
Tina Jeon: Treat the search as an adventure and be open-minded. As the first in my family to attend college and grad school, I had no concept of "civ pro," "the curve," or even the bar exam. If you’re not sure about BigLaw or even where to start, speak with 2Ls and 3Ls or friends who are closer to the process. And don’t be afraid to reach out to people at law firms. It might surprise you how friendly and willing people can be to share experiences or discuss your specific questions.
Blake Berkey: Be strategic. If you are undecided about where you want to be geographically, seek opportunities in a couple of markets, and use the application process and resulting summer as a discovery process. There are also benefits to participating in the application process itself, whether or not you get the job—you gather market intelligence, interview experience, and a frame of reference that lets you compare firms. Once you apply and are in the firm’s pipeline, you can also gain early access to 2L scholarship applications and to callback interviews.
Sara Aziz (New York): Apply to everything. You’re showing an interest in a firm just by virtue of your application, which puts you on the firm’s radar and in its pipeline. For example, my application for Latham’s 1L Fellowship landed me an invitation to attend its Diversity Leadership Academy, which led to valuable connections and helped when I applied for a 2L summer position at Latham. Applying can help open doors, if not now, then in the future.
Irene Fedoseienko: Network! Attend events, introduce yourself, and exchange contact info. You should also participate in mock interviews, which allow you to get candid feedback on your interviewing skills. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your law school’s career services for insight and information about firms. Finally, you never know where an opportunity might lead. Many lateral associates are hired by Latham and other firms by virtue of initial contact they made through a 1L program.
Mackenzie Tudor: Reach out and talk to people who had 1L fellowships at your school. Also, since most of these positions have an essay component, make sure to carve out some time to think about what you want to write—what you bring to the table, why you’re interested, and what you hope to learn.
You can learn more about Latham’s 1L Fellowship Program here: www.lw.com/1LFellowship.
This is a sponsored blog post by Latham & Watkins.
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