Didn't read the whole thread but wanted to comment on what someone said on the first page about how being a research assistant during your 1L summer is seen as "backup." That's not true if you're an assistant for a professor who is famous in the field. If you have an opportunity to work for a professor who is well-known, that's actually a great 1L job - it's paid and provides a great reference. I did that last summer, and during OCI and fall interviewing every interviewer who had gone to my school was excited to talk about him, having class with him, what a smart guy he is, how awesome it must have been to work for him, etc. Even interviewers who hadn't gone to my school wanted to talk about it because they knew who he was.