How to Financially Survive 1L Summer

Hint: It aint easy.

1L summer is great, you finally have some time to yourself and you don’t have to study by candlelight at three in the morning. During the spring semester most 1Ls obtain their summer internships which are thankfully a maximum of five days a week. There’s one huge hole however with 1L summer, where’s the money? When you were signing up for 1L internships you were probably praying that you would get the big bucks and score a firm job paying $3000 a week or more. Maybe you didn’t listen (like me) that the chances of getting a highly paid 1L internship were zero to none.

So what do you do to pay for your summer? This is especially important if your parents are not funding your cost of living and you attend law school in a costly city. Luckily, there are tons of options for students to get past the financial straits of 1L summer and move on to the more lucrative 2L summer.

Paid Internships

The truth is that big firms have been cutting their 1L summer associate programs for many years. Even for students at a T14 school it’s difficult to find a big paying summer associate job without an extremely high GPA. As remote as your chances are, they are reduced even further if you don’t have a stellar GPA. But just because big firm jobs gates are practically closed does not mean that you have to go hungry on the street for three months. A substantially larger minority of students obtain some sort of paid internship. Although this is a minority of students at the vast majority of law schools it could certainly be you.

Many of the paid internships are looking for law students with prior experience in the legal field. Makes sense since many of these will be small firm and non-government organizations. Prior legal internships or jobs that you held before 1L year can be a huge help, even if your grades are less than stellar. Additionally, the hourly pay scale will be much smaller than any big firm it can certainly get you by and you will garner legal experience.

Many paid internships will be posted on your law schools jobs forum page, but some of my friends have also had luck looking at job sites such as indeed and glassdoor.

Public Interest Jobs

Many law schools have stipends for students doing a public interest internship. Check to see what scholarships are available for what internships.

Research Assistant

A research assistant is an excellent option as it provides you with an opportunity to further develop your legal skills and its paid! Professors often have an hour allowance that they can use for research assistants and depending on the project they will hire up to several research assistants. Some professors will send out emails to the entire class of available research positions, some will send targeted emails to individual students and others will list their positions on the school job forum page.

If you get selected take advantage of the opportunity. Although they don’t pay very much, you can work as a research assistant from home and usually you can pick your hours.

Non-law Jobs

If push comes to shove you can always take a non-legal job. I know, it sucks and that’s not why your in law school. But if you’ve got to pay the bills, sacrifices have to be made. Many graduate students every year have to work weekends and nights to help pay for school and you would be no different.

Summer Class?

Nobody in their right mind wants to take a summer class after finishing up 1L of law school. However, financially it might not be a terrible idea. Taking a summer class opens up summer loans from the government that you would not be able to obtain otherwise. If you do decide to take a summer class I would advise you to take a substantive class that you will actually want to take during the year. That way you kill two birds with one stone.

Private Loans?

Unfortunately government student loans generally are not available for the summer if you are not taking any classes. If you have to you can always look into private student loan lenders. Although you can also expect a higher interest rate.

Create a Budget

Ever hear the phrase that you can spend like a lawyer in law school but you’ll be living like a student as a lawyer? It’s true, and the best way to avoid this conundrum is by planning a budget and sticking to it. Too many people when they go off to the big city to study law blow away their student loans on nights out and uber eats. People start realizing they were guilty of this when they cant make their fall and spring loans stretch through the summer. Try and calculate how much you sped on groceries, rent, commuting and going out. If you have any expenses there that are too high work on whipping them into shape.

It is possible to ration out your 1L loans to last throughout the summer, but it wont work if your not strict about it. Either way, the more loan money you can save for the summer the less you will have to worry about paying.


1L summer is a lot of fun because your finally able to experience some freedom after a grueling nine months of studying. Make the most of it, but have a plan for how you will pay for those summer months where student loans just might not cut it.

Stephen Metellus

I am a 3L law student in Washington D.C and owner of! I started law school with a lot of hopes and expectations, and it has certainly been a wild ride from the start! My goal is writing articles that help you in navigating through law school.

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