Last year, law firms hired 44 people in the 1L summer recruitment process, from seven law schools across Canada. 19 were from U of T law. This is a slight increase from previous years, and recent years have seen new firms participating in the 1L hiring process—Cassels Brock joined four years ago and BLG in 2013. Moreover, some firms seem to be hiring ever more 1ls— Davies hired a whopping 9 for the 2013 summer. “Word on the street” is that 1L jobs are growing in number and will continue to do so. As was noted in Precedent Magazine’s 2014 Summer Job Watch, the 1l hire seem to be of increasing importance. Leigh-Ann McGowan, Assistant Director of Professional Development and Student Programs at Cassels Brock, noted concerns about “missing out on interesting, dynamic candidates that would otherwise be snapped up by other firms during the first-year process”, and Robyn Marttila, Director of the Career and Professional Development Office at Western Law, stated that “if firms see that top talent is being snapped up and they feel the pool is a bit diluted, then I think they will jump in for that 1L hire”.
1Ls seem to be taking cues from this. Resume and interview seminar attendance for the “1L hire” is at record highs, applications continue unabated and 1L students are, you know, doing what 1Ls do best— taking the process extremely seriously and FREAKING. THE FUCK. OUT.
However, as a 2.5, my message to 1Ls is this— stop.
Don’t stop building your resume, carefully writing and editing cover letters and attending firm tours to learn about different cultures. Don’t stop researching and certainly don’t stop applying— the 1L process is a phenomenal opportunity to get “familiar” with law jobs, get your application materials in order for OCIS and, if you’re lucky, get practice interviewing. For a very small group of people, it’s an “early in” for an articling job and a great opportunity to get more practical firm experience before graduating.
But, 1Ls, stop freaking out. Please. In reality, the odds of actually getting a “genuine” 1L job are incredibly slim, and the purpose of the 1L hire, despite the hype, is not to to “skim off the best” or gradually shift towards an earlier, higher pressure hiring process with even less information available for applicants than the OCI process typically provides.
Instead, the process looks more like an opportunity to give early jobs to those with genuine experience and who have had opportunity to figure out what they want. Look at the (incredibly limited) statistics. Of the 19 law students hired through the 1L recruit last spring, 10 were JD/MBA’s — not even 1Ls in the strictest sense of the word. JD/MBA “1LS” have a full year of grades and have had the opportunity to watch their classmates go through OCIs before applying. Of the remaining group, most 1L hires had business backgrounds or extensive career experience prior to law school: of the 9 actual 1L jobs offered, the most pervasive common ground between the recipients seemed not to be grades but extensive business/ managerial experience.
So, 1Ls. Chill. You’ll have plenty of time to freak out next fall.