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Aspiring lawyer, questions on how to start

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 

I'm currently an undergraduate at American University in DC studying pre-law and real estate.  I hope to ultimately practice law as a white-collar crime defense attorney.  I'm concerned as to the steps I can take to start out.  I currently have a very impressive resume with several big internships (I worked at a real estate company in NJ on a $400 million project for over a year, I've worked at the Republican National Committee, etc.) however, all the law firms that I've been "applying" to for an internship all tell me to apply again when I'm in law school. 

 

I was hoping some of you on here could assit me as to what I should do.  All of my friends have desirable internships for the summer in either Manhattan or D.C. and I can't find anything in my potential field of work.  When comparing myself to my friends who all have these internships, I find that our grades are very similar, however, my resume is significantly more impressive.  I'm not to worried about being told to re-apply when I'm in law school because most of the firms that told me this my family has very strong business connections with and the attorneys in these respective practices have told me very specifically not to worry and they'll give me the chance to prove myself once I'm in law school.

 

So the dilemma is, what should I do for the next two summers before law school?  Should I keep talking to law firms and asking if there is anything I could do while still being an undergraduate, or should I look for other internships in fields that I am not particularly interested in?  

 

Thanks a lot SF.

post #2 of 52
Get internships in other fields. Graduate and work for a law firm for a year as a paralegal or legal aid.

PS - I didn't know there were tke's in AU. I go there for grad school part time.
post #3 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TauKappaEpsilon View Post

I'm currently an undergraduate at American University in DC studying pre-law and real estate.  I hope to ultimately practice law as a white-collar crime defense attorney.  I'm concerned as to the steps I can take to start out.  I currently have a very impressive resume with several big internships (I worked at a real estate company in NJ on a $400 million project for over a year, I've worked at the Republican National Committee, etc.) however, all the law firms that I've been "applying" to for an internship all tell me to apply again when I'm in law school. 

I was hoping some of you on here could assit me as to what I should do.  All of my friends have desirable internships for the summer in either Manhattan or D.C. and I can't find anything in my potential field of work.  When comparing myself to my friends who all have these internships, I find that our grades are very similar, however, my resume is significantly more impressive.  I'm not to worried about being told to re-apply when I'm in law school because most of the firms that told me this my family has very strong business connections with and the attorneys in these respective practices have told me very specifically not to worry and they'll give me the chance to prove myself once I'm in law school.

So the dilemma is, what should I do for the next two summers before law school?  Should I keep talking to law firms and asking if there is anything I could do while still being an undergraduate, or should I look for other internships in fields that I am not particularly interested in?  

Thanks a lot SF.

Keep doing campaign work. In the long run, this will do much more to help out your career than making copies at a big law firm. Build a diverse resume now. With the ridiculous amount of people you'll be competing with when you get out of law school, you'll need to differentiate yourself.
post #4 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TauKappaEpsilon View Post

however, my resume is significantly more impressive.  

That says a lot about you right there.
post #5 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TauKappaEpsilon View Post

I currently have a very impressive resume

my resume is significantly more impressive.  

well I am impressed
post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by furo View Post

That says a lot about you right there.

He must have just resigned from Goldman Sachs. happy.gif

No, Tau, worry not. I agree with FLMM. Campaign work. Network > $ at this point.
post #7 of 52
Regardless of how "impressive" your resume is, it is not worth much. Why would a law firm hire you, an undergraduate, when it can hire a law student who could actually perform legal tasks and improve the bottom line?
post #8 of 52
Thread Starter 

That is the same question I am asking.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sns23 View Post

Regardless of how "impressive" your resume is, it is not worth much. Why would a law firm hire you, an undergraduate, when it can hire a law student who could actually perform legal tasks and improve the bottom line?


 

post #9 of 52

Two things:

 

1) Get an LSAT prep book, take a practice exam to find out your weaknesses (likely the so-called logic games), and start practicing. Do it NOW.

2) Don't screw up your undergrad GPA

 

This comes from a 3rd year law student. I know what I am talking about.

 

~ H

post #10 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by DLester View Post

well I am impressed
Quote:
Originally Posted by furo View Post

That says a lot about you right there.


From what I gauge from about your posts on here I'd say this may be an issue. You think you're the real deal but maybe you are not. $400 million project is chump change going by what you say your background is and also you seem to want to post about your connections and the like. If you have a good network stuff will be done for you, take to your mentors now about this and since they know you better and could guide you to opportunities that would suit you better. Like FLMM said, differentiate yourself. If you like politics why not work on a campaign for the election or for a senator. Most senators have some sort of program for high school / undergrads that get you exposure and you should be able to meet the senator a few times at least.

Trying to act privileged (regardless of whether you are or not) and saying you have a "superior" resume mean little, as your friends have desirable internships and you do not. So they either have: more desirable majors / classes, talents that don't show up on resumes (better social skills for example), better connections, more money, etc. You could have 4.0GPA, be president of your house + five clubs, sit on undergraduate council, and do 500000 hours of community service. But that doesn't really matter if you are still not getting any internships.
post #11 of 52
Thread Starter 

I thank you for your honest opinion and for not holding anything back.  However, I'd like to clear something up.  From what I understand from reading your post, you are making it sound like I can't get good internships.  I'm sorry if I miscommunicated this but I meant to say that I can't get good internships in the specific field that I'm looking into.  I've had 5 great internships in other fields (real estate and politics).  I mentioned that fact that I have a great resume because compared to other students at my school, my resume is far superior.  (I apologize for sounding cocky).  My problem is that given my previous work experience, my GPA, my interview skills, etc. I'm still having trouble finding an internship specifically in a white-collar crime law firm.  My question to SF was should I continue to work on getting an internship with a white-collar law firm or get other internships until I'm in law school?  This question seemed to be answered already, and I thank everyone for the answers.

 

Just to hit on one more point, Steve, you say that I should take advantage of the connections I have and speak to them about what I should do.  To respond to that statement, I have talked to every single connection I have and I have been told similar things from everyone, basically telling me not to worry so much.  However, being a little younger then most members on SF, I see SF as an opportunity to speak with members who I can look up to as "mentors".  From what I'm gathering, a lot of SF seems to have great careers and in my mind, it can't hurt to ask someone who has gone through a similar life experience as I will be doing for advice.  

 

Again, I'm sorry if I came across as cocky or anything, and I apologize for any typos since I'm running on 3 hours of sleep.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevent View Post


From what I gauge from about your posts on here I'd say this may be an issue. You think you're the real deal but maybe you are not. $400 million project is chump change going by what you say your background is and also you seem to want to post about your connections and the like. If you have a good network stuff will be done for you, take to your mentors now about this and since they know you better and could guide you to opportunities that would suit you better. Like FLMM said, differentiate yourself. If you like politics why not work on a campaign for the election or for a senator. Most senators have some sort of program for high school / undergrads that get you exposure and you should be able to meet the senator a few times at least.
Trying to act privileged (regardless of whether you are or not) and saying you have a "superior" resume mean little, as your friends have desirable internships and you do not. So they either have: more desirable majors / classes, talents that don't show up on resumes (better social skills for example), better connections, more money, etc. You could have 4.0GPA, be president of your house + five clubs, sit on undergraduate council, and do 500000 hours of community service. But that doesn't really matter if you are still not getting any internships.


 

post #12 of 52
I'd say take their advice and do a summer volunteering or study abroad. Obviously something you're interested in and take your mind off internships for the 3 months.
post #13 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joffrey View Post

I'd say take their advice and do a summer volunteering or study abroad. Obviously something you're interested in and take your mind off internships for the 3 months.

Probably the best idea.

In the end, an internship you had while in undergrad is going to have zero impact in law school.
post #14 of 52

I sent a PM. As to anyone aspiring to attend law school or practice law: don't. I wish someone would have given me advice prior to my attending law school, but I was the first in my family to attend college and had zero debt entering law school.

 

 

Law school is an enormous mistake unless you have a network in your preferred practice area or job guaranteed PRIOR to attending. Otherwise, the amount of debt---in addition to the substantial costs of three years of law schools plus Bar exam fees---is far out of proportion for the opportunities that a J.D. provides.

 

 

Just do not do it. You can attend some MBA programs and take a law school class or two. Suggestions: contracts and business organizations. \

 

 

 

EDIT: many from my graduating class of '10 have (a) no job AT ALL, (b) unpaid internships and clerkships, (c) "associate" positions that DO NOT provide health insurance or any benefits, (d) contract positions (aka document rev. at $16 an hour if they can find it), and (e) some have REMOVED the J.D. from resume as they job search in other areas.

 

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED (WISH THAT I WERE PRIOR TO ATTENDING LAW SCHOOL)

post #15 of 52
I have experience in this both in law and the practice area you are talking about.

To be blunt, the fact that you are talking about working for a "white collar law firm" tells me that you haven't done enough research. White collar defense work is largely handled by large law firms, although there are smaller firms and solo practitioners who take these kinds of cases. There are very few law firms that dedicate themselves solely to criminal law (note that I'm not referring to solo practitioners), let alone white collar work.

Regardless, all of those employers are only going to hire you as a paralegal. The smaller the firm, the more likely you will get substantive experience. No matter what though, it is still paralegal work. The reason I mention this is because I think you need to focus on getting an internship that will set you up for law school, and not getting a white collar defense job. For reasons not worth explaining now, I will just say that your goal is quite beyond law school and the bar exam.

By the way, why "white collar" defense? This is a question just for you. I suggest it though because I'm not sure you think it means what it really means.
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