Although internships in college are not mandatory, many students are quick to agree that participating in such a program is very beneficial for a number of reasons. The great thing about internships is that such opportunities can be found regardless of what a student chooses to major in. Those majoring in Law will find legal internships to be a great way to help them decide not only if the degree program they’re in is the right fit, but what niche in the legal field to specialize in after graduation.
Students interested in signing up for a legal internship have a wide range of types to choose from. Judicial clerkships are among the most popular because they allow students to intern for court judges at the federal and state level. This means getting a firsthand glimpse into the daily happenings during trials and in appellate court settings. While the specific tasks may vary, general responsibilities legal interns in a judicial clerkship can expect to take on include researching and analyzing case law, briefing the judge, helping with drafts of important legal documents and reviewing/maintaining trial records and related paperwork.
There is also the option of signing up for a legal internship at an actual law firm. Large or small, law offices typically welcome additional assistance with their case loads. Completing an internship at a firm means working closely with the attorney(s) and becoming familiar with the nature and details of the cases and people they are representing. This is an ideal way for law students to learn the ropes, as well as boost their resume with real-world experience that will impress employers once they begin applying for jobs after graduation. Additionally, there are different types of lawyers that students can choose to intern for, based on their interest in a particular field—not to mention that such internship opportunities can be found just about anywhere. For example, a law student in Southern California could sign up to become an intern for a local San Diego personal injury attorney. Or a student may want to see what it’s like to intern for a larger, corporate law firm that deals with multimillion dollar clients.
There are both paid and non-paid legal internships available. However, some paid opportunities require students to work full-time or work hours that may conflict with their school schedule. In such situations, a summer legal internship might be more convenient or law students can look into internships within their school. Many law schools house their own legal clinics, where students are able to interact with real clients and cases. These types of legal services are often provided to the public for either little to no cost. Participating in this kind of legal internship is ideal for students that want to kill two birds with one stone by getting course credit for the internship program while being able to continue their studies uninterrupted.
To see what opportunities are available, law students should make an appointment with their academic advisor to discuss their options.