I'm at a lower T1 and pretty much all of my friends who tried hard got paid positions. One guy in particular that I can think of was ranked in the top 40-50% of our class and got two paid SA positions - one of them paying $2600/wk (as a 1L). I'm guessing he had connections there, but still - he got the job. He had already accepted an unpaid externship early on and committed to 5 weeks there so that cost him $13k for those weeks he missed. I made $26k over the summer doing the type of work I wanted to do. Not trying to brag and not trying to say that everyone will get one, just saying that it is possible. I guess it depends on the market. My guess is that Miami places well in Miami. I'm not familiar with the market, but I would assume its similar to how USD places very well in San Diego because it's the best school around. If your friend in NJ is willing to take you on now, chances are almost certainly that he'll take you on in the Spring - again it's just my opinion but I would certainly wait around. I was probably wrong about the NALP guidelines. The text is as follows:
Prospective employers and first year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not interview or make offers to first year students before December 1.
Not sure whether that includes un-paid or not. Your safest bet is to just ask your CSO.