Dog Days

DaliI have never been a summer person. I was pretty much a giant nerd up through middle school, and summer meant heat and bad TV without teachers validating my existence. I played football in high school, so summer meant hours out in the middle of a football field being knocked around by sweaty 300 pounders, being yelled at by coaches, and generally injuring myself with the consistency of a Swiss clock. Note that this was a definite improvement over my previous situation.

And then, there were college summers. It’s hard to beat a weekend drinking on a deck in California with a bunch of your best friends when you aren’t working a part-time job that is relaxed, fun, and experience-building. Now, extend that weekend over 12 weeks. That’s a good summer if I’ve ever heard of one.

So, let’s just say there has been a bit of a regression during my first summer as a law student in Boston. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Boston in the summer. It’s absolutely gorgeous here, rarely gets hotter than the 80s, rarely drops into the 50s, and the humidity is tolerable. The city is fun, the bars are full, Fenway Park is hard to beat for a summer night, and there’s something going on everywhere you look. The problem rests in what a 1L actually “does” during the summer. The school year ends with a bang as your tough finals for the year-long courses are saved for last. Then, immediately after that last exam, you walk into a room where a 2L stands, smiles, and hands you a 250-page packet full of case law and cite checks titled “Journal Writing Competition”.

On top of that, you are already prepping for the job search season for next summer (which begins, believe it or not, the August before) by researching law firms and getting your best interview face on. And, on top of that, you’re working some sort of summer job. For most law students, 1L jobs fall into two categories: unpaid legal internships and paid non-legal hourly wage jobs. Neither is going to be easy to find or ideal by any means. Even without a job, the problem is not, by any means, staying busy.

Then what is the problem? To quote Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.” For all the work that you’re doing, none of it pays off right away. It’s about four weeks before you see your grades, at least two weeks until you know what kind of interviews you are going to get in the fall, over a month until you find out how the journal writing competition went. You’re pouring all of your work into all of these projects and competitions and tasks only to stand around and wait to figure out what it all means and what’s next. And this is, by far, one of the most frustrating periods I’ve ever had to sit through. Studying ennui is fun as an undergrad but much less fun to experience in the real world.
So to recap, this is your basic 1L summer schedule:

  1. 1L year ends.
  2. Work for a week on the journal writing competition.
  3. Wait for results.
  4. Work for a month on the OCI job search.
  5. Wait for results.
  6. Prep for interviews.
  7. 2L year begins.

This isn’t to say you don’t have a great experience waiting for you as a budding lawyer, but here’s some free advice: enjoy your last free summer while it lasts. Find a deck with a couch and a beer and take a few minutes to enjoy the ride before the August ends and law school kicks into full gear once again. Once it’s gone, it’ll take you less than a dog day afternoon to miss it.