Here’s a breakdown, by year, of what a law student should do:
As a 1L: I’ll cut undecided students a small break. By your spring semester, you need to have a plan. Also, learn about your school’s law journals and moot court teams. TAKE SUMMER CLASSES. If you take summer classes as a 1L, you can focus on bar prep/interning extra hours during your last year in school. Also, start buying suits. If you start establishing your professional wardrobe in your first year, you will have plenty of clothes to wear to your first job. Your 1L year is for picking a field, mapping out a plan, and stacking credit hours in your favor.
As a 2L: During the summer and fall semesters, apply for government or large law firm summer internships. Choose classes that confirm your interest in a certain field. Intern with a legal aid organization, state attorney’s office, or local law firm (preferably with 4-20 attorneys). Attend local bar association events. The more events you attend, the better you will get to know the attorneys in your area. Figure out where you will live as a 3L and bar prepper, see Renting Tips for 2Ls.
As a 3L: You know local attorneys. You focused your classes and internships toward the job you want. If you followed the above advice, you probably have a job offer. If not, apply for jobs (50-100), attend job fairs, and continue interning. Your 3L year is about polishing. Perfect your resume. Don’t take a bar prep class through your school, unless they require it, just study non-stop for 10 weeks during the commercial bar prep class.
When the hiring partner holds your resume up next to someone who’s school or rank is higher, you need them to know that you want “their job” and not just any job. The job market is poor and student loans are rich. Make a plan to get hired.