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March 04, 2006

1L Summer: Judicial Externship or Firm?

An enquiring mind wants to know:

Which job should I chose? I am a first year and have been put in the very lucky situation of accepting between a firm and a judicial externship for my first summer job. But I am not sure which one I should take. I really like both offices. The ppl were really friendly in both cases. I met with the judge and with the managing partner in both situations and they were very likable and seemed like they'd give me lots of substantive work... any advice? Honestly I am really dumbstruck.

Hm. Like you say, yours is a good problem to have, but I don't see any clear way to resolve the dilemma. Your answer may depend on what you hope to do long-term (after you graduate from law school) and what sort of judge and firm we're talking about. If this is a prestigious federal judge you'd be working for, that makes the externship more attractive. If this is exactly the firm (or the exact type of firm) you'd eventually like to work for, the firm might be the best choice.

If you don't know what you want to do long-term, I'd personally lean toward the externship b/c you might get a better introduction to a wider variety of law there. On the other hand, odds are high that the firm is going to be more fun in terms of having a good time w/other summer interns, getting free lunches, etc.

So that's not much help, eh? Can anyone else offer some perspective?

Posted by mowabb at March 4, 2006 09:37 AM

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Go with the firm. While externships usually might expose someone to a wide variety of law, unpaid externs (or unpaid anythings) are looked down upon, and people will think that the person took the job because they couldn’t get a paying one. Most judges don’t take their externs seriously. In my family it is dishonorable to work for free. The person should concentrate on getting a good, paying clerkship.

Posted by: at March 4, 2006 07:48 PM

You can work for a firm for your second summer.

Judicial experience will be harder to come by in your future. You will learn a lot.

Sure, the firm job will be much easier and fun, but you will get that stuff your second year anyway.

By the way, it's not everybody who has those offers so early.

Keep up the hard work and superior performance by taking the externship. The rewards will continue to show up.

Posted by: Dustin at March 5, 2006 07:18 PM

While some unpaid jobs might look bad on a resume, an unpaid judicial externship is not one. The prestige factor will vary depending on which court the judge is in, of course, but in general, externships are difficult to come by since most judges are choosy about who they hire. Even if it's not a life-changing experience, you'll get the chance to see how things really work in a courtroom. At worst, you'll just have a good line on your resume; at best, you could have a judge for a mentor.

Posted by: kristine at March 5, 2006 11:34 PM