Your career as a lawyer requires, among others, mastery over the fine points of the legal system and passing a rigorous license examination. An optional but excellent way to get your career a head start is to secure an internship at an established and reputable law firm.
An internship can introduce you to the realities of a career in the legal system. It can provide a venue for you to explore options. Maybe you’re not sure about working at a family law firm in Federal Way, and you may prefer working at a car crash attorney’s office in Kent instead.
Excelling in your internship can secure you a job before you graduate from law school. To do so, potential law interns should know what firms expect of them during their tenure.
An Interns Duty Roster
The best law firms won’t just let the interns order coffee and pick up their dry cleaning. Although workplace culture will vary in each firm, they generally expect interns to do the following:
- Gain real-world insight and experience. This is the primary duty of a law firm intern. Firms expect you to take in the complication and nuances of the world you’re going to work in. You could learn the different ways lawyers approach clients, depending on the matter at hand. Or you could watch how an expert attorney acts during contract negotiation to get the best result.
- Assist in the courtroom. You can turn your attention to the intricacies of courtroom procedure if you’re not interested in prosecutorial or defense work. Firms may ask you to accompany a lawyer to an actual trial and prep any relevant documents they’ll need.
- Do your research. Most law firm interns will be researching whatever cases the firm is handling at the time. Lawyers need all the information they can get when they enter the courtroom, and you can help them cope with the tons of documents they usually have to sort through. This duty doesn’t stop when you discover information; sometimes, firms will ask you to convey this knowledge to the attorney or a judge in writing. All these can help you hone your knowledge of the legal system.
How You Can Maximize Your Internship
The period an undergraduate spends at a firm is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for a brilliant law career. Here’s what you can do to secure your success while interning.
- Make contacts and networks. An intern should start building a network of lawyers and other legal experts that can help you during the first rocky years of a career. These connections can help land you a nice position at a prestigious firm or be the source of career and legal advice in the future.
- Consider a specialty and learn about it. The law has a lot of subordinate fields, and picking a specialty can be difficult without any information. Use your time in the field to know the prospective fields of specialty up close and decide if you want to pursue those later on.
- Think about whether the law is the best fit for you. Being in the trenches alongside full-time attorneys, figure out if you see yourself doing what your superiors are doing for years. When you have doubts and reservations about your capability to do so, it may be time to look for a new direction in life.
Interning is not just a way to boost your resume. It’s a chance to evaluate your choices and see if you have what it takes to pursue your goals down the road and into the courtroom.
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