Summer Series 2019 continues! Today we have Yadilsa Diaz, another repeat (and just as beloved) guest writer to this series. We have seen Yadilsa has been so kind to share her pre-law summer, her 1L summer as an in house counsel and now she shares her tips on how to hustle and get the big law summer associate position. Getting a foot into big law is no easy feat, and she shows you a road map on how to get it–of course, it take preparation, discipline, and faith–but she’s got it and so do you!
Hola hermanas! My name is Yadilsa Diaz, and I am a rising 3L at Rutgers Law School in Newark, NJ. I am a first-generation Dominican-America, college graduate, and law student. With all of these firsts comes self-doubt and a sense of not belonging. This is my third year as a guest contributor, and I do it for the same reason every single time, to demonstrate to each and every one of my Latinx sisters that YOU BELONG, YOU WILL THRIVE, AND YOU MATTER.
If you are like me, a first-generation law student with big dreams, you must find opportunities yourself. You have to be your greatest advocate and channel your ancestors’ resilience every step of the way. I have lived by this since I began law school, and it is the reason why I have excelled.
Before discussing my summer position, let’s quickly address some of the steps you should take to land your dream job! During the spring/early summer of your 1L year, search for job fairs in your area. Personally, I gravitated toward job fairs catered to diverse candidates because they are well attended by the nation’s top law firms and their objective is to find qualified candidates that look like you and me. Next, compile strong application materials including (1) resume, (2) cover letter, (3) writing sample, and (4) transcript. This tedious process will make your life so much easier when the applications open. In the weeks leading up to your interviews, compile a list of questions that interviewers will likely ask and prepare responses. Lastly, practice your responses out loud. Yes, it will be weird, awkward, and people will think you are talking to yourself, but it will make you feel more at ease.
This summer, I am working at a large law firm in New York City. For my pre-law sisters who are not familiar with the process of acquiring 2L summer associate positions, it is a long and tiring process. I participated in on campus interviews, two diversity job fairs, and took advantage of opportunities offered by my employer last summer. I applied to over 75 positions, had over 50 screener interviews, about 25 callbacks, and after all of these interviews, I received offers from large law firms in New York City and Washington D.C. I share this because we CANNOT put all of our eggs in one basket. We cannot count on our law schools’ on campus interview program, especially if we are not in the top 10% of our class, or if our school is not in the radar of our desired employers.
I am extremely happy that I gave up my summer (yes, I didn’t go on vacation) to secure my future and secure the bag. I am working at a law firm that I love, doing great work, and interacting with attorneys practicing at the top of their field. I have had the opportunity to work on matters in various practice groups as well as pro bono, helping with causes near and dear to my heart.
Before stepping into the firm, I made sure to speak to all of my mentors and asked for tips on how I could thrive this summer. This is what they said: (1) NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK, (2) be transparent with your workload, and (3) be open-minded and try everything. I have taken their advice and have noticed that in my short time there, I have found a group of people that I trust and I am getting so much out of this experience.
As you enter into your first or second year of law school, remember that this is about endurance. You have to hustle every step of the way and although you will be exhausted, it is doable and I am living proof. Whether your motivation is Sonia Sotomayor or Cardi B (or both), you must channel their energy every time things get tough. Always check yourself whenever the imposter syndrome creeps up. And lastly, don’t forget that even on your worst day, you are living your dream!