1L Thanksgiving Strategy

1ls framed
Roosters Not Invited to Dinner

A well-planned 1L Thanksgiving strategy helps you enlist and deploy your personal Career Strategy Team to help you find work and to ease their fears about your future.

Your friends and family are stressed about your summer employment prospects. Help them to help you by creating a practical plan and sharing it during the Thanksgiving weekend. Do this, and you will show that you are concerned and not slacking. Then, enlist them all as members of your Career Team, and give them something to do.

The Thanksgiving Dinner and the weekend

Devoting an hour now to making a plan will allow you to control the flow of job-related conversations and then quickly switch the focus onto the relative merits of sage-and-onion or oyster stuffing.

 Managing expectations 

Sharing your fact-laden plan with help manage their expectations. Should your family expect you to be employed by January 15 (where did they get that idea?) they will spend the semester sending waves of angst and panic in hundreds of texts and tweets. If they know that you expect to find a small firm job in May, or that you are interested in studying abroad, they may calm down..

Options by type

Paid employment

  • Large firms (not hiring many 1Ls)
  • Small firms (large numbers of 1Ls are hired in the spring)
  • Public agencies (some hire in the spring; many may take volunteers)
  • Corporations (few hires, some internships with spring applications)
  • Returning to pre-law school employment (excellent idea)

a.  Consider applying to your former employer’s legal department.

b.  Consider a part-time position combined with a volunteer law gig.

  • Research assistant to faculty: Creates connections with faculty who can give you rigorous research tasks which can help them evaluate you so that they might serve as future references. Some of these jobs will be posted; others will be announced by faculty in class. You may approach any faculty member whose work interests you.

 Volunteer options

  •  Legal volunteer opportunities: sign up in the spring or continue your fall pro bono project
  •  Judicial externships (depending on your school)

May be a summer school class with spring registration.

May require direct application after fall grades are posted.

  • Summer school or study abroad

Summer school lightens your fall course load and can be combined with part-time work or volunteer gigs.

Caveat: An externship, summer school, and study abroad have a tuition cost.


These are the Holy Grail of the highly-touted Hidden Job Market, and this is where your Team comes in.

  • Enlist your Career Strategy Team (family, family friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and all random contacts, including your manicurist) to begin to create lists of lawyers and other professionals (Targets) with whom you will connect. Even if you do not come from a family of professionals, they may surprise themselves when challenged to connect you with their acquaintances who may have professional connections.
  • Ask that your Team alert the Targets that you would like to contact them during winter break to discuss careers, and career paths, and to seek their advice.
  •  Commit to making the connections. Your Team will be going out on a limb for you. Don’t even think of embarrassing them by not following through on their introductions.

Create a resume, have it reviewed by Career Services, and load it to Google Docs. This is a doc that you will give to your Team so that they can have smart conversations about you with their own contacts.  You want them to be able to say:

My son is interested in X practice, and he has questions about law practice and lawyers’ careers in general. May I give him your contact information so that he can set up a meeting during his winter break?”

My daughter is a first year law student who is curious about lawyers and their career paths. May I give her your contact information so that she can set up a meeting during her winter break?”

Invariably, the contacts will ask “What does your daughter want to do?”  If you have a specific goal in mind, please share it with your Team. If you don’t have a specific goal, instruct them to say that you are exploring career paths.

Make a plan. Create a resume. Load it to Google Docs. Get back to studying. Exams are coming.

About susangainen

Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian. Abstract Painter. Writer. Teacher. Explorer.
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