I Know What You Did Last Summer

If you are a 1L, chances are you’ve been thinking about your summer plans lately. In deciding what you may want to do, considering all you’ve been through so far in first year, you have probably considered one/a combination of the Usual Suspects: a law-related job, a non-law related job, research, volunteering, traveling, switching to medical school, or simply attaining 8 daily hours of a mythical entity known as sleep.

Besides having to choose which lunch-time event to attend based on its free food’s quality (Panago v. Samosas), figuring out what I want to do after first year has been the toughest decision I’ve had to make for a while. I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the whole thing-the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly- in hopes that it may be helpful, or at least minimally impair your right to be amused by blogs.

The financial benefit of choosing to work over other options of the non-paying variety is obvious. Law school is an expensive endeavour and Vancouver is not a cheap city in which to live. Our collective debt is simply rather Big. So this first observation is nothing Earth-shattering.

My second observation from talking to past students, lawyers, and recruiters is that students are not expected to do a full time law-related job after their first year of law school. Most firms do not have specific positions for first year students, and most recruiters do not count lack of a law-related job as a fatal flaw in your application. On the other hand, some lawyers have advised me that having a law-related job is a good choice for people whose marks may not exactly be Smokin’ Aces coming out of first year.

Of course, your first summer’s plans shouldn’t be wholly dictated by whether they will help you secure a job after law school. Your interests and values should obviously play a role, too. Research, for example, is a great way to explore and develop your interest in a particular area of law, while applying some of your shiny new legal skills. Catching up on or getting involved in volunteering opportunities which first year’s busyness may have kept you from is also another great option. For some, a long break from any school or academic work may be just The Thing to de-stress from first year, while others can’t wait to further immerse themselves in the field. And of course, for those of you like me who are perpetually in a state of Wanderlust, four months of break is the perfect opportunity to globetrot.

The point is that there are many options available, and most of them are good for you. You can go down conventional paths, or do Something New. I have come to learn that the whole process of getting to and going through law school includes having to make some important decisions without having all the information you may want. It is about making the best possible choice with limited information, accepting that there is no way to know with certainty The Road which is best. Kind of like those multiple choice questions, where 5 out of 5 answers are correct, but 2 of them are just correct, 2 of them are extra correct, and one of them is slightly more correct than the extra correct ones. Be honest about what you want and try to keep as many doors open as possible. And all you have to do before getting on with your summer adventures are a few little tests. Also, The Lord of the Rings. There, I really wanted to use that one and couldn’t fit it in the dominant subject matter of this post for the life of me.

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