Okay, I’ll be candid – this week and next are going to be a bit short because of finals. But the posts don’t stop coming! This is my last week of studying (hallelujah), and I turned in my 30 page paper yesterday (ayyyymen). Now it’s just three finals next week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, thoughts & prayers happily accepted) and then I’m freeeeeee!
for the weekend. Then it’s right to work.
Yep, law students do legal work during the summer – even though we’re not in ANY way qualified. For 1Ls, the summer jobs vary greatly. The job hunt for most began before last fall – people were assembling resumes, sending them to various firms, and even occasionally interviewing before we took finals. Some got offers last winter, some were just hearing back during spring break, and a few are scrambling to find last-minute positions (which isn’t normal, totally COVID-induced).
1L summer is supposed to be a time to experiment in a field you think you’re interested in, while 2L summer is basically an intro to your post-law school job. Many people work at the same business/firm/office during 2L summer and after passing the bar; basically, you show your employer as a 2L that you’re worth inviting back as a grad. That’s part of the reason my class is a little stressed about not having spring grades to show employers. They would normally be competing for jobs in the fall of 2L…but some don’t have the best grades from fall of 1L. However, the school knows this is a huge concern and have pushed back all 2L recruiting to spring of next year.
As we round out the school year, I have some friends working at firms, some in government offices, some as in-house counsel for corporations, some in public interest. It seems like most of them are staying on the east coast, but I also have a few scattered across Utah, Texas, Nebraska, California, and D.C. Unfortunately, most are either starting their summer jobs remotely or are sort of left in limbo, waiting for businesses to open again. It’s a tough spot.
Of course, none of the above applies to me. My Air Force program (FLEP) has a built-in summer job, which really lifted a huge weight off an already stressful 1L experience. Of course, I didn’t know that going in – just another hidden bonus. For my internship, I’ve been placed at the closest Air Force legal office – just a 15-minute drive from our current apartment, and the base where my husband works! This is another huge advantage of the Air Force gig – unlike all my friends, I don’t have to move or scramble to sublet my apartment for the summer months.
Every Air Force base has a legal office, but the type of base heavily determines what kind of legal work goes on for the lawyers there. Some bases have a large population of airmen, and therefore heavy on criminal litigation; others (like mine!) have more civilians, and focus on force-wide projects involving plenty of regulations and contracts. But all JAGs are tasked with counseling commanders, providing free legal assistance to airmen, and being a “jack-of-all-trades” for whatever legal work may arise at their installation.
As I mentioned, Hanscom AFB is much more “paperwork” than “courtroom” – it’s the fifth largest legal office in the Air Force, with 45 personnel total. The base is uniquely split into two buildings, one of mostly military lawyers (who deal with military justice, operational contracts, employment and civil law, and legal assistance) and one of mostly civilian lawyers (working the huge, information technology deals). I’ll be mostly working with the military one, but I hope to get a look at the huge contracts too – there are about $70B in contracts over there. SEVENTY BILLION DOLLARS. I can’t even comprehend that number.
Concerning my internship, I’ve heard from both the head of my legal office and my direct supervisor, and been given contact to two more junior members on base. My finals end next Friday and I’m off to work the following Monday – no matter what that work looks like! My supervisor is letting me finish finals before shifting focus to everyday ops – but if my job looks anything like Ben’s, it’s just going to be lots of teleconferences and email correspondences. Technically, military personnel are ‘essential’ and allowed on base, but only those who truly need to be there (read: not lawyers) are allowed to go. And base is an all-mask, all-the-time zone, so both civilians and airmen are highly encouraged to work from home.
Overall, I’m really looking forward to this internship! Unlike many of my friends, who are nervous abut the complete unknown of law firms and government offices, I’m already familiar with military bases. Even better, I’m already familiar with this particular base! Furthermore, I’ve heard good things from other people in FLEP – their 1L summers were productive and they learned a lot about both military lawyering and military law offices. It doesn’t hurt that I’m being paid as normal (still getting that Boston cost-of-living is THE BEST), AND I pin on the next military rank, Captain, next month! Come June 2, I’ll automatically look a little less green and rake in a little extra green to boot. Not too shabby for an unqualified 1L.