Law School Discussion

1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm

Towlie

1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« on: April 24, 2006, 11:06:44 PM »
Okay, so I'm pretty lucky in that I already have options for work the summer after my 1L. Basically, I know someone who holds a pretty important position in the Department of Justice and he has pretty much assured me that he can get me hired to work there the my first summer out of law school. I have no idea how hard it is to usually get a job like that, what the pay is like, or what the prestige around it is, but I do love DC and if it pays nothing Penn will give me $4000 automatically if I take it.

However, I'm also lucky in that I can almost definitly get a summer 1L job at a medium-to-large size law firm in the Philadelphia area if I want (connections there too). I'm not sure if it pays as well as the top firms do, and it wouldn't be at a firm that I would want to work at when I graduated (so I wouldn't do it my second year), but none the less, it would be a hefty-ish paycheck.

I have absolutely no intention of going into government when I get out of law school or judicial clerking. I'm going straight for the big firm in a big city.

Given all this, does the prestige factor of a DoJ summer 1L outweight the financial gain and learning experiences of a firm job? I'm kind of clueless on this, so any comments are appreciated!

callmemike

  • **
  • 6
  • f/k/a dunson the schtick
    • View Profile
Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2006, 11:10:43 PM »
Go with the DOJ. It will stand out to the big firms at OCI.

Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2006, 06:28:06 AM »
I would go with the law firm.  Such a small percentage of 1Ls get a job at a law firm their first summer that you'll want to take the opportunity if given to you.  If you have no aspirations to be in the government nor in judicial clerking, I don't see the appeal of the "prestige," if there is any, of working at the DOJ.  It's completely outside what you're looking for.  Working at a firm this summer will get you ready for working at a firm next summer - plus you'd be able to test out more practice areas than if you only worked at a firm your second summer - I think this is key.  I question whether working at the DOJ would actually "stand out" to employers, given that your classmates will likely be doing similar things.  Just my .02. 

Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2006, 07:39:23 AM »
Will the firm give you an offer to return for your 2L summer (assuming you don't screw up, of course)?  Being able to say at interviews that you worked for X decent firm and have an offer to return will go a long way with employers.  It shows that you've been tested and found acceptable.

If your 1L firm simply doesn't give return offers (i.e., it's too small), then having worked there will be less impressive, and I'd be more inclined to take the DOJ option.

However, bear in mind that a DOJ stint may raise a few suspicions with some interviewers -- they'll wonder whether you really want to do BigLaw or you love criminal work and are looking at BigLaw just to make some summer $$$.

Officer Rod Farva

  • ****
  • 713
  • FARVA #1
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2006, 10:08:43 AM »
If you want to work in a firm, why not work in a firm?

Towlie

Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 11:01:37 AM »
If you want to work in a firm, why not work in a firm?

I just wasn't sure about if there was any prestige surrounding a DoJ summer job.

As far as if I would be able to return to the firm, I'm pretty sure I can, but I KNOW I don't want to. But I could use that as a bargaining chip, I guess.

Thanks for all the help.. keep it comming!

Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2006, 11:07:56 AM »
If you want to work in a firm, why not work in a firm?

I just wasn't sure about if there was any prestige surrounding a DoJ summer job.

As far as if I would be able to return to the firm, I'm pretty sure I can, but I KNOW I don't want to. But I could use that as a bargaining chip, I guess.

Thanks for all the help.. keep it comming!

It's fine if you know you don't want to.  It means a LOT to say that you were given an offer to return, even if you choose not to return.  It means that you're fully capable of working there, which is relaly wnat firms are looking for.  I haven't heard of any particular prestige about a DOJ summer job that would per se outweigh a firm job.

jacy85

  • *****
  • 6642
    • View Profile
Re: 1L Summer: DoJ vs. Law Firm
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2006, 11:15:20 AM »
What will each job entail?  What sort of experience will you walk out of after your first summer?  Will you do substantial research and writing?  Will you be doing menial tasks like copying and organizing binders? Find out more what each job entails.  You list more on a resume than the employer's name.  If you can put some impressive experience (be it writing appellate briefs all summer, substantial research and writing for major cases, etc.) and can pull some good references, then I say it doesn't matter.  A firm will be looking for some sort of legal professional work, and some proof that you have some skills and can apply them in a quality, efficient manner.

If you feel the experience will be good either way, and you KNOW you want to work for a firm, then I say go with the firm.  Many people think they'll love working for a huge prestigious firms, when they're actually more suited/would be happier at a smaller firm. Get some good experience and open some doors there; then try to summer at a big firm after 2L.  You'll be in prime position to decide which firm environment is best for you; you'll know whether to accept an offer from the big firm or not.

And as someone else pointed out, if the smaller firm would have you back, then you can make that known.  Being wanted always makes you a little more popular.