Typically large law firms hire very few 1L summer associates, and most 1L hiring takes place as part of firms’ specialized recruiting programs. As a result, the market for 1L large law firm jobs is very competitive and is not an indication of your ability to launch your career at a large firm.
You may begin applying to large law firms after December 1, but we suggest waiting until you have completed exams. Your grades will have a much longer lasting impact on your career success than an early law firm application. Many firms will not make hiring decisions until after you receive fall semester grades.
Finding Large Law Firm Opportunities
Search the NALP Directory for firms that accept 1L applications and to identify firms’ recruiting contacts. You may send your materials (resume and cover letter) directly to recruiters by email, attached as separate PDF documents.
Check Symplicity and law firm websites for postings - firms may accept 1L applications through a portal on their website.
As part of their efforts to increase diversity, a number of firms offer 1L Diversity Fellowship opportunities, which include a position as a 1L summer associate. Find these opportunities listed:
Spring On-Camps Interview Program
A small number of law firms may participate in the Spring OCI program.
Small & Mid-Sized Law Firms
Small and mid-sized law firms can offer excellent opportunities for 1L students to explore practice areas and improve critical research, writing, and analysis skills during the summer.
You may begin applying to small and mid-sized law firms after December 1, though applications can certainly wait until after exams, and the majority of posting and hiring will take place in the spring semester.
Finding Small & Mid-Sized Law Firm Opportunities
Check Symplicity for job postings - you will see some towards the end of the fall semester and more in the spring semester
Most small and mid-sized firms do not have a careers section of their website or dedicated recruiting staff. They may not specifically post summer openings, though they may be interested in taking on a summer intern. You may send your materials directly to the firm - to the most senior partner, a Penn Law alum, or the head of a practice group you have interest in.
Networking is a critical part of the small and mid-size law firm job search. Visit the OCS Networking page for tips and guidance.
Start with identifying companies in the geographic areas of interest to you. Consider whether you want to work domestically or internationally.
- Look at the Directory of Corporate Counsel which lists companies and the attorneys in their Legal Departments. It also gives information on the attorneys’ law schools. (Print access through Biddle; Westlaw access: Enter database identifier CORP-DIR in the “Search for a database field”).
- Look at Hoover’s which lists companies alphabetically and by industry and geographic area.
- Subscribe to Corporate Counsel Magazine (print access Biddle or online).
- Go to the Association of Corporate Counsel for information about the industry and specific companies and their General Counsels. The ACC also has regional chapters.
Apply to job postings.
- Check Symplicity regularly for new postings.
- Check the companies’ websites for job postings and the name and contact information for the person in charge of hiring in the Legal Department or the General Counsel’s office. If no one is listed, call the Legal Department and ask who is.
- Check the job postings on the Association of Corporate Counsel’s job boards. Job postings are also in each ACC Chapter.
- Check the job postings on InHouseBlog and GoInHouse.
Check where prior 1Ls have interned and network with alumni/2Ls/3Ls.
- Review list of where prior 1Ls have worked in the Networking Section.
- Check to see if there are any University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School alumni at the company in the Corporate Counsel Directory (on reserve in Biddle). Also see Finding University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Alumni.
- Review our online list of Alumni working in-house.