A legal internship can make a significant difference on a law student's resume. An intern typically works for a judge, a law firm, a professor or another organization during the summer months. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and both may offer the potential for full-time employment following graduation.
Much of a law student’s classroom focus is on how to properly research existing legal opinions and relate that information to new and similar court cases. A legal internship provides a law student the opportunity to conduct research related to business or judicial decisions. The research conducted by an intern may prove valuable to the organization’s existing caseload. It encourages practical application to the basic legal skills previously obtained by the student through course materials and lectures. Research may involve following legislative actions related to an organization’s particular case or assisting a law professor with a project.
A legal memo is a document that discusses a specific legal issue with supporting principles, prior decisions and examples of how provided information may apply to a current case. Interns may be required to write memos related to the research they conduct and present the information to a supervising attorney or judge. Law students who intern for a law professor may even be permitted to use memos they create as writing samples for future employment or scholarship opportunities.
Trial and Meeting Attendance
One of the most rewarding aspects of a legal internship is the ability to network with practicing lawyers and judges. Legal interns may attend court proceedings, settlement or mediation meetings and other client interactions to learn what legal work entails. A supervising attorney may allow an intern to sit second chair during trials, interview or prep witnesses or assist with court preparations. Interns who work for judges have an opportunity to experience both good and bad case arguments and may gain a better insight into what type of law they wish to practice after graduation.
Depending on the employing agency, a law intern may be required to perform basic administrative tasks in addition to legal responsibilities. These assignments may include copying and filing case documents, running errands for a supervisor or other agency staff member or writing content for an organization’s newsletter or website. A legal intern should all tasks assigned to build experience and to contribute to the mission of the organization.
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