Month-by-Month Career Planning for 1Ls


  • Adjust to law school. The first few months of law school are a huge transition. During that time, students shouldn't feel that they are required to start career planning. 
  • 1Ls will meet with their career counselor beginning in October of their first fall semester.  Prior to that first meeting, you can start exploring different career paths!  
  • Attend career development workshops presented by the Career Services Office. 1Ls can attend career development workshops that are offered during the fall semester and are encouraged to do so in order to start considering their career interests and options. Information about upcoming programs can be found in the Career Services section of the Record and on the Career Services bulletin board.​​​​​​
  • Research various career paths; talk to attorneys and upperclassmen; come up with a list of practice areas and practice settings that interest you. Give some real thought to what brought you to law school.


  • Peruse the wide range of resources available in the Career Services Office and in the career services section of the Chicago-Kent library to learn what is available that will most benefit you. Check out general career planning guides and books about legal careers that interest you.  The Career Services Office has an entire section devoted to general career planning and several categories devoted to specialized areas of law.
  • Meet the Public Service Organizations Reception: this opportunity to meet government and legal aid employers is held every year at Loyola Law School. A coalition of Chicago area law school career service offices organizes this event. It is a chance to meet and talk with representatives of organizations where you might extern or volunteer over the summer or during the school year in your 2nd and 3rd years. The date for this event will be posted in the Record.
  • Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI): PILI’s Law Student Internship Program connects law students from across the country with public interest law agencies in Illinois and pays them for their work. Typically, Interns receive $6,000 for working 400 hours during the summer and $3,000 for working 200 hours over a semester. Interns can also receive law school credit for their Internship if first approved by both Chicago-Kent and the agency a student is interning for. Applications for this program open in late fall (November or December). Although applications are accepted on a rolling basis, the earlier you apply, the better your change of being selected. 
  • Interested in a position in the Federal Government for your 1st summer? Some of the applications are due in the fall. For opportunities, check the Government Honors & Internships Handbook in the Document Library of Symplicity (you will receive a Symplicity password after you attend the mandatory 1L Career Services Orientation in September. 
  • Develop a legal resume. We have a Panopto video, which tells you how you can create your first legal resume and first legal cover letter.  We also have a resume guide which is available here, or in hard format in the CSO office. Schedule an appointment with your assigned career counselor to review your legal resume.
  • Continue self assessment:  What would you like to do during the summer after your first year? Consider: Volunteering at a legal aid or government agency; work as a law clerk at a private firm; researching for a professor; participating in a Chicago-Kent clinical experience; or taking summer classes
  • Begin networking: Holidays are a great time to network.  Ask your uncle about his next door neighbor's firm.  Find out what your boyfriend's sister likes about working in the State's Attorney's Office.
  • Don't forget to study! Strong first year grades help open doors.


  • Concentrate on exams! First year grades are important to most employers.  They provide an easy way for firms to compare candidates.
  • If you wish to apply to large law firms -- 150+ attorneys -- or Intellectual Property Boutique Firms -- get cover letters and resumes out during December. (Please be aware: there are only a handful of first year jobs in this sector of the market; generally 10-15 in the Chicago market for all 1Ls). Competition for these jobs is extremely fierce.  A list of large firms that will consider 1L applications is available online through the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALP) under the Advanced Search option.
  • Send applications to federal government positions that you have identified in the Federal Government Honors & Internship Handbook some of which have December or early January deadlines (see November above).
  • Apply for diversity scholarships, summer positions and fellowships, including the Judicial Internship Opportunity Program and the Association of Corporate Counsel externship program. See the Record for more details on these opportunities.
  • Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference (MPILCC): MPILCC is an annual conference where students have the opportunity to interview with and meet public interest employers. The conference will be held this year at Northwestern Law School on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Sign-up will occur at the end of December. Watch the Record for announcements about registration.
  • Request reciprocity. If you are going home for the winter break, and are considering working in your home area over the summertime, request to receive reciprocity at a local law school. Reciprocity gives you access to another law school's career services office, and can sometimes include a temporary electronic password for that school's job posting system.
  • Network over the semester break and start conducting informational interviews. Go to networking events at the local bar associations and law firms. Contact alumni to set up coffee meetings or phone conversations. See the guide to "Informational Interviews" which provides the basics for getting started.  Talk to practicing lawyers and lawyers in alternative careers.  Informational interviews will help you determine the type of work you want to do and the type of employer you want to work for.  You'll learn what employers look for in candidates.
  • Continue to read everything you can about careers in the areas of law in which you are interested. You may be surprised to find out that what sounded so interesting to you at first glance, isn't, and other areas which you may have passed over are really fascinating.  You'll never know until you research it.


  • Continue to explore your options for the summer after your first year. If you haven't yet prepared a legal resume and had it reviewed by your career counselor, do so now.
  • Develop a persuasive cover letter targeted to the areas of law in which you're interested. In targeting firms you can look for things like size of firm, types of practice (i.e., transactional or litigation), and the practice areas available (i.e., environmental, patent, etc.). Look at the "Legal Resumes and Cover Letters for Students," for assistance, and ask your career counselor to review it.
  • If you would like to do legal volunteer work over the summer, call or write to your targeted legal services or government organizations. For a list of legal aid organizations, visit Illinois Pro and click on "Directory."
  • Set up an appointment. If you have not already been in to see your career counselor, come to the Career Services Office to talk about your job search plan and your long-term career goals.
  • Continue informational interviews.
  • Attend the Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference (MPILCC):   In December, students signed up to attend MPILCC, an annual conference where students have the opportunity to interview with and meet public interest employers. Even if you did not register to attend MPILCC, you can still attend the conference and meet with employers through "table talk." The conference will be held this year at Northwestern Law School on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Students should schedule a mock interview to prepare for this conference in the weeks leading up to the event. 


  • Continue to follow up on volunteer opportunities. The law school is a member of PSJD, which provides a large database of paid and unpaid pubic interest job opportunities. See the Resource Specialist for information about accessing their Web site.  The Public Interest Resource Center is a student organization which matches volunteers with opportunities.
  • Talk to 2Ls and 3Ls about what they did during the summer following their first year.
  • Work your contacts!! Many students who find paid legal work after first year find their job through contacts.
  • Keep checking the job postings on Symplicity.

March, April, May

  • Keep going to Career Services programs, including Employer Receptions. These programs are great ways to learn more about job search skills, to create job success strategies and to meet practitioners and other useful contacts.
  • Follow up on clerking job listings in Symplicity --  April and May are peak hiring months for summer law clerk jobs.
  • Start thinking about next fall. Attend the "What's Next?" program in April and review preliminary information on our web page.
  • Consider a part-time legal volunteer position combined with a paid non-legal position. Many 1Ls combine part-time jobs, legal and non-legal, paid and unpaid to make a full summer for themselves.
  • Register for summer job fairs, like the Loyola Patent Fair and the Cook County Bar Association Minority Law Student Job Fair. See the Record for more information.
  • Consider summer school. It's a great way to lighten your course load during the fall so that you can make time for the clinic, an externship, a clerking job, or another type of legal experience.
  • Watch the Record for information about applying for judicial externships, clinic positions and faculty research assistant positions.
  • Don't get discouraged. Paid legal employment can be challenging to find during the summer after the first year.  Don't give up!  A number of law firms are still seeking clerks in June.
  • No matter what your plan is, have a back-up plan. Make the most of your summer by having a contingency plan.

June, July, August

  • Work. Whether paid or volunteer, research or assisting an attorney, get some legal work experience this summer.
  • Continue self assessment. What do you want to do with your law degree?  Learn about your options.  The more information you gather and the better you know yourself, the more satisfying you'll find your legal career.
  • Update your job application materials. Add your summer job(s) to your resume. Edit your cover letter to describe new skills and experiences. Polish your writing sample. Add spring grades to your transcript. Contact your references to let them know that they still are your references and to make sure their information is still correct.
  • Research the Fall Recruiting employers. Review Symplicity for information on the employers participating in our Fall Recruiting program. Meet with your Career Adviser to determine if Fall Recruiting is right for you and to create a strategy. Decide whether you are primarily interested in transactional work or litigation and learn about the role associates in large law firms play in this type of work.
  • Relax!  Enjoy this break! No matter how you spend your summer, you have at least two more years of school and another summer during which you can develop your practical legal skills.