I thought that I’d post in a bit more detail how the 1L job search works here at HLS. In November, you can select an advisor in both OPIA, the office that covers public interest advising, and OCS, the office that covers private sector employment and clerkships. This advisor is your go-to person for your job search. Other advisors hold office hours daily for any quick questions you have, but I found it incredibly helpful to have one person who knew me and my entire job search “story.” He or she will edit cover letters and resumes and offer advice on interviews and evaluating offers. Both OPIA and OCS also suggested employers that might be a good fit for me. I know that I reached out to employers that I might not have even known about without OPIA and OCS’s input. Another great resource that I enjoyed was “HLS Connect.” It’s an alumni database that lists alumni who are willing to be contacted about their work and interests. I found these conversations really valuable in thinking about where I might want to practice and how I might be able to get there. If you’re curious about my own HLS Connect story and how it affected my summer job search, you can read about it here. One of the best things about Harvard Law School is the breadth and enthusiasm of alumni. I really enjoyed speaking with them. You gain some perspective in real world practice that casebooks cannot always provide.
Back to the timeline and process. Beginning December 1, you are allowed to apply for positions. For most 1L positions, this application process involves emailing your resume and cover letter to a contact that you found either on the NALP Directory or through one of Harvard’s internal job postings. Some employers wait to interview until fall grades are out, while others seemed willing to interview before grades. Less were willing to extend offers before grades were available, though some did. Unlike the 2L process, most of the firms and government agencies that I dealt with did not require an initial on-campus screening interview. There were a number of employers who visited campus in February who did such screening interviews, but my experience was that most employers used your resume, cover letter, and grades for screening and then invited you to their offices. Interviews generally asked about motivations for attending law school, geographic and practice area interest, thoughts on law school, and for more background on past experience.
I finished interviewing in mid February and accepted my offer last week, but my perception is that it is common for the process to extend into March or later. Some of my friends have finalized their plans, but many others are still looking. 1L employment ranges from government agencies to non profits to law firms to investment banks, both domestic and internationally: you can imagine the range of timelines. OPIA and OCS emphasize that everyone in the 1L class will enjoy working in a legal setting this summer if they so choose. The Summer Public Interest Funding and other supplemental funding means that students can afford to do what most interests them, even if the positions themselves are unpaid.
I know that many of you are deciding where to attend law school. OPIA, OCS, and the amazing array of employment opportunities at HLS are a really significant plus for the law school. I am very excited for my summer position, and so are my friends excited for their own. I hope that you choose to join us for this reason or the many others. Perhaps I’ll see you at the upcoming April Admitted Student Weekend!