Depending on your career interests, there are several types of employers that hire law students for the summer.
Law Firms or In-House Counsel
Every year, law students obtain positions with law firms or in-house legal departments for the summer. The primary means of securing such positions is by writing letters to employers. These employers range in office size and practice groups and generally hire students much earlier in the year than public interest and government employers.
Identifying Law Firms -- You can check in the NALP Directory, at www.nalpdirectory.com, to identify which NALP member firms may hire first-year or upper class students. However, keep in mind that you should not rule out an investigation of mid-size and smaller law firms, most of them are not NALP members. There are many other sources that will help you identify both law firms and other legal employers in the Conducting a Job Search section.
Public Interest Organizations & Government Agencies
Popular organizations for students include: American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Public Defender Offices, The Department of Justice, state attorneys' general offices and Legal Aid Offices. Not only is there an intrinsic value to working for an organization that acts to promote justice by representing individuals, groups, causes, or issues identified as traditionally under-represented or unrepresentative in our society, but these positions also often offer unparalleled practical experience for a law student.
While there are often numerous positions available in public interest organizations, many of these organizations cannot afford to pay summer interns. Note, however, that the Law School and the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) annually support summer interns through endowments and grants from fundraising efforts. North Carolina-bound students also routinely receive IOLTA grants as a source of funding. Basic information about these types of financial support is available on our website; for additional information, see us or contact the Public Interest and Pro Bono Office.
In addition to CPDC and the Office of Public Interest web pages, Duke Law School subscribes to several online job search tools for public interest employment, including PSLawNet, which lists public interest conferences, internships, fellowships, employment opportunities and nonprofit organizations. You will also find print public interest guides in the CPDC library as well as in the Public Interest Suite
Research Assistantships for Professors
Several dozen students typically stay in Durham to assist Duke Law School professors with a variety of projects. Professors often need assistance in updating a casebook or researching materials for a law review article. In addition to providing you with great training in legal research and writing, the professor will be able to serve as a reference for you in the future. This is especially important if you will be seeking a judicial clerkship after graduation. Watch for announcements about these positions in March and April, or contact a professor yourself.