The purpose of an undergraduate law internship is two fold. A legal internship is beneficial for both the law firm and for the intern. The law firm has an extra person on staff to lend their skills and creativity. They can perform valuable work for the firm’s clients. The internship is also a good chance for the employer to see if the intern is a good fit for the company.
For you, an undergraduate legal internship is a great opportunity for exposure to the legal profession. A legal internship can give you the opportunity to grow your skills in an interesting industry. Many people find legal work interesting. You can use the internship to help you narrow down your career choices. It’s also a great resume builder for later when you apply for jobs.
What do law interns do?
Law interns might perform a series of legal work under the supervision of an attorney. They might draft documents and perform complex legal research using research tools. Law interns may prepare and organize files. When you’re a law intern, you’re immediately an important part of your law firm’s efforts.
Look at small companies
While social network might give you the impression that everyone works for a big law firm, the vast majority of law firms are actually small. You might find that you have more luck securing an internship with a small firm. A firm with only one or a few lawyers may be eager to have the help.
Ask your college counsellor
Your college may also have some ideas for you. They might know of local attorneys who are eager to work with undergraduate interns. You might also get a list of alumni who are attorneys. These alumni might be eager to help a fellow student explore and launch their career.
Dress the part
When you go to your interview, the people who are evaluating you want to know that you’re going to be a good fit for their organization. Practicing law is serious business. In most cases, that also means that law firm dress codes are quite serious. Dressing formally says that you take the internship seriously and that you’re able to dress appropriately if you get the internship.
Think through common interview questions in advance
While you might get a few surprises, a lot of interview questions are common. You can arrive at your interview prepared by reviewing a few common questions in advance:
- What makes you interested in working at a law firm?
- Can you type and use a computer?
- Have you ever worked with law firm research tools like Manupatra or SCC?
- Tell me about a time you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.
- Can you tell me about your strongest and weakest points?
- We work under tight deadlines. Can you tell me about a time that you had to meet a short deadline? How did you handle it?
- What are you hoping to learn from this internship?
Ask the right questions
You have a chance to ask questions too. You should always take advantage of the chance to ask questions, because it shows that you’re interested in the law firm and the work.
- What will a typical day be like for me?
- Do I work primarily for one person, or will I work for everyone?
- What do you like about working for this law firm?
- What are the most challenging parts of your job?
- What kinds of hours will I be working? (If you have classes and you can’t work full time, it’s important to establish this up front.)
- If you were starting your legal career over again, is there anything you wish you had known?
Making the most of your undergraduate years
An undergraduate education is for learning career skills as well as for exploring career opportunities. That makes it a great time to have an internship at a law firm. Law firms are often eager to have the help and show you the ropes. Taking the time to search in the right ways and prepare for your interviews can help you land the right undergraduate legal