How to Find 1L Diversity Summer Associate and Clerkship Programs

Blueprint JD Job Board

For first-year law students, Winter brings two unwanted gifts:  exam anxiety and summer job search stress.   Our free law school exam outlines give you a head start on the former and now it’s time to address the latter.  The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) guidelines allow legal employers to begin accepting applications from 1Ls on December 1.  So, how do you approach your summer job search as a diverse 1L?   

Mass Mailing is No Miracle Worker


Be sure you don’t slip up with respect to NALP recruiting deadlines.  Per NALP, 1Ls can’t talk to legal employers until December 1.  Caution (Photo credit:

Do not blindly mass mail your resume and cover letter.  Frankly, legal employers can easily spot a cookie cutter cover letter and your resume will end up at the bottom of the pile.  By resorting to mass mailing, you also risk ending up at a place that isn’t a good fit and won’t help you develop.  

If you must mass mail, use a targeted approach.  For instance, contact judges and law firms in the city or town where you grew up.   But do not expect miracles.  The law firms that hire 1Ls aren’t shy about saying so and will solicit applications.  An unsolicited mass mailing to a law firm usually results in a form rejection letter.

Develop Connections and Tap Into Them

A better way to secure a quality 1L summer experience is to use your connections – Career Services, professors, and other contacts.  Sit down with each and conduct an informational interview.  For those interviews, you must be prepared to discuss your ideal summer experience, including the skill sets you would like to develop, the industry or practice areas in which you would like to work, and the type of environment in which you thrive.  Be sure to end each informational interview with an “ask” (e.g., Do you know of places that align with my interests?  Do you have a contact at such an organization?  If so, can you introduce me to your contact?).   Once you obtain a lead, follow-up on it and remember to keep your connection in the loop with your progress.

Informational interviews take time, so give yourself a reasonable goal (i.e., 3-6 interviews) and meet that goal before the end of the year.  Aside from your studies, tapping into your connections should be your number one priority.

Target Your Search with Diversity Fellowships

Blueprint JD Job Board

Visit our Careerboard to Find 1L Positions for Diverse Law Students.

Fortunately, a number of summer opportunities exist for diverse 1Ls.  Most are geared towards those interested in law firms; however, a growing number of judicial internship and public service opportunities are also available.  For a list of 1L opportunities, visit the Blueprint JD Careerboard.  We’ll be updating it frequently between through the end of the year


If you know of opportunities that aren’t included on our job board, paste the link in our comments or email us at 

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Melinda Hightower

Melinda Hightower

Founder and Chair at Blueprint JD
Melinda Hightower is passionate about legal diversity, literature and community activism. When she’s not busy earning her keep as an attorney, she operates Blueprint JD, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to building diversity in the legal profession.