Law School

The Importance of Diversity (and I’m not talking about Race)

If I have not scared you enough into preparing for your summer job then rest assured I will keep trying. Appointments with career services will be here soon and deadlines will be fast approaching, and one of the things you have to decide soon is where you’re planning to apply.

Perhaps you had a really good experience with an agency your 1L summer.  Or you’ve been interning during the fall semester with a new agency that you really are enjoying. It’s natural to want to keep working for a place you enjoy.

different law internships

However, if you’re dealing with a legal market where offers are not certain, or you’re working public interest where money and positions are low, you may want to consider diversifying your experience. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, consider trying something new–a new agency that does similar work or a new practice area that really interests you. While it may seem like common sense to return to a place where you had a great experience (and in the end, that may be the best choice for you), by returning to the same place, you may be accidentally limiting your options.  Look, if you know that summering at the same place will increase your chance of an offer or make it easier to apply for a fellowship  then go for it.  But if not, you owe it to yourself to try something new.

First, if you intern at a new agency you’re going to learn how to to adapt to new professional environments, which is really important for young professionals. Staying at the same place may make you too comfortable and may make it difficult to adjust when you move on to a new job. Another important benefit of diversifying is that you will expand your network and support system. One semester I randomly decided to intern for a government agency. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did and the big bonus was that I met new attorneys that were happy to help me when I started applying for jobs.  These were connections I never would have made if I had stayed at the same place.

Second, trying a new area or agency allows you to flex old skills while gaining new ones. The best example of this is that most 2Ls will be licensed to go to court.  For some that is a scary prospect, but I really encourage you to consider a summer job that will allow you to flex your litigation muscle-or some muscle that you normally don’t get a chance to experience. Building these foundational skills will translate into any practice area, and during school is the best time to try different things to determine what’s a good fit for you.

If you diversify your job experience, you may end up loving an area you had never considered; meeting professionals that become your mentors; or you may end up gaining skills that will make you a better job applicant. In my case, I was always interested in immigration, but also loved criminal law. When I applied for my first job, I had more experience doing criminal law than immigration, but they saw my criminal law experience as a benefit for the agency because Immigration and Crim law intersect so much. I may not have been as strong of a candidate if I had the same type of basic immigration as the other new attorney applicant.

So while it may be tempting to do what’s comfortable, take a moment to consider if you’d benefit more from a new experience this summer.  And if so, start researching now because applications will be due before you know it!