1L provides an abundance of opportunities. It can be difficult to determine what extracurricular events to allocate our most valuable and limited resource to. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared for a Q&A event in February. We have the weekly Wednesday Latham & Watkins Forum (guests this year have included former SDNY US Attorney Preet Bharara, NYU Law Dean Trevor Morrison, and many other brilliant professors and visiting speakers), student organization events, OCS events, PILC events, TA sessions, professor lunches, volunteering for Admitted Students Days… And not to forget, we survive on SBA Bar Review every Thursday, hanging out with friends, and catching up with family. So many of us 1Ls found ourselves wondering how the nightly firm receptions would fit into our schedules this semester. After speaking to friends and mentors and attending many of these receptions myself, I have compiled the most common reasons to attend these events as well as reasons not to attend these events (with some debunking).
Reasons to Attend
- EIW: Early Interview Week is in August immediately after 1L. This might be your only chance before EIW to interact with firms and familiarize yourself with their different cultures. Moreover, your interview answers and questions will be colored by your conversations at the receptions.
- Great Restaurants: New York attorneys know how to dine. Fortunately for 1Ls, the firms host us at trendy restaurants with open appetizers and bars.
- Decorum: Speaking to firm attorneys is very different than speaking to law students. These events are great opportunities to become comfortable conversing with attorneys and understanding practice areas for EIW. Also, learning how to eat and drink professionally is a vital lesson.
- Pick and Choose: You need attend only as many receptions as you have time for. Therefore, you can prioritize firms you know you are interested in. But I recommend attending as many receptions as you can, because firms will surprise you.
- Relationships: Recruiters and hiring partners are almost always present at their firm’s receptions, typically to market the firm and to meet prospective colleagues. Worst-case scenario, by attending these events you will witness the firm’s culture and determine whether or not your feel comfortable around the attorneys; best-case scenario, you could hit it off with and befriend your future EIW interviewer.
Reasons Not to Attend
- Public Interest: If you are determined to work in public interest immediately after law school, these events might not be of interest to you. However, if you are not 100 percent sure that you will work solely in public interest, you can learn more about firm life and work at these events. The impressive commitment of many firms to pro bono work, along with the fantastic future colleagues, might be enough to convert some public interest students to consider EIW.
- Not Enough Time: Of course we all have many time commitments, and it is important not to be overwhelmed. But these receptions allowed me to hang out with my friends, eat dinner, and learn about firms in ways that my summer research would not. I ended up saving time by amalgamating several commitments.
- I Can’t Commit in Advance: Fortunately, this one is easy; only some receptions require advanced RSVPs. Most are welcoming to drop-ins. But if you can RSVP in advance and the invitation requests that, please do so.
- There is No Benefit: I defer to the list of “Reasons to Attend.”
Disclaimer: I am biased. These receptions have been a highlight of my 1L spring semester. I have enjoyed these events as a way to connect with the fascinating and fun attorneys in New York offices. Also, these firm receptions have reminded me of the intriguing work and colleagues I can look forward to at the end of this law school journey.