Finding a career in law is becoming increasingly more difficult and competitive. Having a degree next to your name no longer guarantees you an interview, let alone a full time job. Obtaining internships while studying for your degree is a crucial component to later landing a job, and can often help open your eyes to new career paths within the law industry. Whether you’re about to start an internship at a law firm, or plan to complete an internship later on in your schooling, there are a few things you should be prepared for. Read on to learn about what you should expect during your internship at a law firm.
Little Glitz and Glamour
TV shows and movies often show law interns being chosen to help with murder cases and high profile lawsuits on their first day. Reality? A lot of paperwork, behind-the-scenes requests, and coffee runs. Everyone has to work their way up. While the firm might be involved in exciting or historic cases, you’ll likely have minimal responsibilities due to your lack of experience. However, an internship is a great way to gain a little experience, and might give you a ringside seat to some thrilling cases. Even if you are given minimal responsibilities and mundane tasks, go the extra mile be the best intern possible. If you act as if the job is beneath you, your superiors likely won’t give you more responsibility in the future.
As previously stated, the law field is extremely competitive, and the internships will be no exception. Be prepared to put your best foot forward each and every day and look for ways that you can go above and beyond normal intern duties. As an intern, you are disposable to the firm so if you aren’t performing to the best of your abilities, there will be a dozen law school students waiting for your job. Appreciate the chance to gain experience, and be sure that your employer gets the sense that you are grateful and ready to work.
Insight to New Areas of the Law
You may start an internship thinking you’ll end up in criminal law and end it with a passion for contract law. The whole point of internships is to gain experience pre-career, so try and learn as much as you can about various topics so you can reevaluate your goals and make sure you know what you want to pursue. Be open to other areas of the law, and as you gain experience, you might find a hidden passion along the way. This is why a general legal internship at a law firm can be beneficial early on in law school.
No Guaranteed Offers
Many assume that if they do a good job at their internship, they will be offered a position at the firm. Unfortunately, this is not the case—many firms will ask you back for another internship or to follow up with them throughout the year before extending an official offer. Don’t be discouraged by this, just be aware. When you are hired as an intern, your employer might not give you any sense for what will happen after you’ve completed the internship, so you will probably have to roll with the punches.
A large component of many law internships is research—helping research for cases or trial prep, analyzing previous cases, deductive reasoning, etc. If this isn’t a particularly strong suit for you, definitely take some time and prepare before your first day. You’ll learn a lot about legal research that will come in handy in your schooling when you have to take research classes. The opposite is also true—any research classes you’ve taken before your internship will likely provide you with a base knowledge that will come in handy as you aid with research for the firm.
An internship at a law firm is extremely coveted and will often serve as a stepping stone for your future job. It is a crucial element for not only gaining experience within the field, but also for narrowing down your area of focus in the industry. As with any opportunity, the internship will be what you make of it, so go in with your best foot forward and start contributing from day one. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at George Washington University paralegal schools who offer online legal degree programs.
This article is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.