You have a very decent shot at a lot of firms, and you should bid on certain firms in the top 20. Last cycle was insane so that people even with 5.3's were getting offers from Cravath--that's just hovering over the median. This cycle is bound to be worst There are a lot of variables, and for example, if you have a particularly useful foreign language, such as Japanese, a firm may be much more willing to overlook your grades. However, while it might not make sense to bid on Cravath, Wachtell, S&C or DPW, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to bid on many of the remaining firms. Particularly Skadden and Weil are fairly well known for dipping below the median for summer associates from HLS. You could almost certainly get an offer from Shearman if you really wanted it, but for lots of reasons, very few Harvard kids ever go there. Besides the firms mentioned, you have a reasonable chance and the NY office of any firm-- heck, you might as well try for maybe Cleary and STB, who knows? It will depend a lot on you. Use up all your bids and do so wisely, meaning have a big spread, knowing that results can vary a lot for people in your range.
I have assumed that you are looking for the NY market, but especially if you are thinking SF or DC, your grades could become a major issue. However, even then, not all would be lost. My point, however, is that if you dream of working in a big time M&A practice in NY, you almost certainly can do so. Think a lot about what you're looking for because you may not want to work at a crazy big-time NY firm. There are a lot of good firms around that are a little less intense that rarely get the benefit of hiring a harvard student.
There is no reason to worry, even with the economy. As long as you are reasonably social and good at interviewing, you will be fine. I have several good friends with similar grades who scored offers with some of the firms I have mentioned (esp Weil and Skadden).
Here are a few more suggestions:
Do the practice OCI interview with OCS. Because there could be such a wide number of differences with your results, it'd be good to know that you are doing the interviews well to maximize call backs.
If you really really like a firm, let them know. Go to the reception and tell them. This can make a difference.
Even with grades slightly below the median, you are still among the most sought-after job candidates in the nation. You should act like it.
But there are no guarantees, so make sure to have a plan. Your OCS advisor will help.
Anyway, have a good summer and take it easy.
Rainyday- I'm just another 1L too (were you in Section 6, btw?) so I guess my thoughts need to be taken with a grain of salt, but here they are:
Yes, your grades are likely below the median at HLS. Ten years ago the median was between a B and a B+, and I'm guessing that has gone up to around a B+ just based on my observations. Still, a 3.1 is by no means terrible. There are people who get C's here, and they still get jobs. That being said, with the economy as it is, you may have a tougher time than some getting a BIGLAW summer job, but you WILL get one, especially if you want to be in NYC. While the top firms are more picky, the consensus is many of the middle to lower Vault 100 won't even look at grades, or just give them a passing glance, especially if you interview well and they like you. Of course, OCS may be lying to us, but they likely aren't, and I've never heard of someone not getting BIGLAW who wanted it. Have you looked at the spreadsheets of who's going to these firms from HLS (they're on the OCS website)? Many, many very good firms do not even get one 2L for their summer program. These firms want people from Harvard, if only to make the other summers at the firm think "oh, this firm must be good, people from Harvard come here!" We get a lot of bids for OCI, and as long as you bid strategically (ie. not putting down the top 20 firms) you should be just fine.