It’s no secret: the legal job market is tough, and has been for a few years. There are thousands of aspiring attorneys graduating each year; many without jobs lined up. Fortunately, undertaking the right internships during law school can put a student above the pack. Employers consistently favor students with solid experience, and internships are an excellent way for students to gain legal experience. If you are looking for a way to beef up your post law school resume with impressive work experience, take a look at a few of the best types of internships to try before you graduate.
Non-Profit Legal Services Internships
Internships with non-profit legal services organizations are an excellent way to gain experience in legal research, legal writing, courtroom advocacy, client interaction and community organizing. Because they provide free services, and are usually under-funded, these organizations heavily rely on interns. This experience will bode well during the job search, especially if you apply to a firm that puts a large emphasis on pro-bono and community legal work.
Another great way to gain legal experience is through a judicial clerkship, where the law student works for a judge over a summer or a semester. The judicial clerk’s job includes legal research and writing to assist the judge in pending cases. Clerks may also sit in on court hearings before the judge, which makes a judicial clerkship is a great resume booster. If you have future plans to become a judge, this type of internship will help you on your way—even if that dream is far in the future.
Law Firm Internships
Law firms also make use of interns, which can be an eye opening experience for a law student planning to find work at a prominent firm after graduation. The bigger firms will accept interns for the summer, while smaller firms may have interns year-round during any semester. Law firm internships may not offer as much in terms of substantive work but they expose the intern to the rigors of a law firm practice. The intern will also work on very interesting, cutting edge cases and assist partners in researching and drafting briefs. Law firms recruit heavily from former interns for permanent positions, so if you’re worried about finding a job after graduation, start building relationships now.
Law students may also work in the in-house legal departments of corporations. They would be involved in the day to day compliance decisions that an in-house attorney deals with. This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working from within a corporation, or within a specific industry that interests you. If your corporate law internship goes well, you might find yourself hired on to the team once you graduate. Additionally, you’ll have an easier time finding a job in a particular industry if you get experience by doing an internship that is tailored to that market.
Another important type of internship is serving as a research assistant for a professor.Research assistants help professors in conducting research for academic papers, cases, or books. A research assistant internship will look good on a resume because you’ll be able to show prospective employers legal publications that have your name on them—demonstrating that you’ve had some real-world experience with legal documents. This type of internship is also especially useful for students who have aspirations to become law professors.
Law students are clearly spoiled for choice when it comes to useful internships. While there are many choices out there—don’t just choose any internship for the sake of doing an internship. Students should carefully consider their desired career paths and aim for an internship that will give them an edge on that path. If you can find an internship that relates to the industry or line of work that you plan on working in, a potential employer will be more likely to seek your services.
The information for this article was provided by the professionals at Nova Southeastern University, who offer a master of science in employment law.5 Types of Internships that will Really Boost Your Post Law School Resume by Guest