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Timing Your Application

Not all legal employers recruit, interview and make offers on the same time schedule. Generally speaking, larger employers recruit in the early fall and medium-small employers recruit in the late fall and early spring. Many students do not and should not target their job search to only one type of employer. Use the guidelines below to determine when your target employers recruit, and then make a time plan for yourself. Remember that these are general guidelines. It is imperative that you discuss your specific goals with a counselor in the Career Services Office to maximize your time and energies.

*A brief note on “size”: whether a firm is considered large or small is determined by the legal market. Thus, a firm of 25 lawyers in New York City would be considered small, while the same sized firm in Ithaca would be considered large. When in doubt contact a career counselor.

Large law firms

Recruit second year students in the early to mid-fall for summer employment. These employers make offers to some or all of their second summer associates for permanent employment after graduation. They recruit for any openings for third year students in the early to mid-fall as well. A few may recruit first year students in December and January.

Small law firms

Recruit first and second year students for summer employment and third year students for permanent employment in the spring and occasionally the late fall. Consult the Career Services Office’s Small Firm Job Search Handbook (available in the Career Services Office) for detailed information.

Medium law firms

May recruit in fall or spring, depending on whether the firm has a formal summer program (like large firms) or hires case-by-case (like small firms).

Federal Agencies and Public Interest Organizations

Time lines vary, with the larger agencies and organizations usually recruiting in the fall and the smaller ones recruiting in the early to late spring, and sometimes after bar passage for permanent employment. Make an appointment with Karen Comstock, Assistant Dean for Public Service, for assistance with designing a job search strategy.

Federal and State Judicial Clerkships

Students submit applications for most federal clerkships in early September of their third year of law school (clerkships begin after graduation). State court clerkship deadlines vary. Consult the Career Services Office's Judicial Clerkship Handbook for detailed information.

Federal and State Judicial Internships

First year students who are curious about working for a judge may attempt to secure an unpaid internship between the first and second years of law school. Judicial internships have no particular application deadline; deadlines vary from judge to judge. The Career Services Office has several resources with contact information for judges. Consult with a counselor if you are interested in pursuing a judicial internship.