I would add spend your 3rd year networking hardcore if you got dumped from your 2L summer SA job. I had several open offers coming out of my last semester all from contacts and all guaranteed jobs if I just said the word. These ranged from being brought in by a managing partner at a big firm in town to work directly under him in his department to clerking for a judge. Who you know can beat just about everything. But it takes TIME and TRUST before you can start calling in favors so start as soon as you get back to school by getting involved in the legal community outside of law schools. Leave the clubs at the school for people who think mass mailing is a good way to find a job. Get out and make your rep in the legal community during your third year and you will have lots of people on the inside to help you find something.
I agree, I remember when I started 3L year. It was real depressing. I knew some many people who were smart, sociable, good grades and even PUBLISHED, that came back to school with no offer in hand and had to enter the rat race again. Career Services was absolutely NO HELP because they recognized that *&^% was hitting the fan and that there was nothing they could do about it.
Of course, they gave the obligatory e-mails "network and make phone calls, join local bar associations to meet more lawyers." and all that crap, but there really wasn't much they could do because the knew that the writing was on the wall that as a new lawyer or a law student you were in one of two categories:
About to be unemployed.
and this isn't even counting all the "Deferred start dates" and crap.
If you could redo your 1st 6 months as a 1st year associate, what would you do different?