About Legal Internships
Legal internships provide law students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience through participation and exposure to the legal field. The duration and types of legal internships can vary greatly; however, internships are typically offered during the summer months between law school semesters.
Some internships are paid, while others are unpaid. If an internship is unpaid, some still may qualify for compensation through a stipend (for public interest internships for example) or may qualify for
law school class credit. Internships may be sought from a variety of employers including private law firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and more.
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How To Get Legal Internships
The thought of securing a legal internship can be overwhelming; however, there are a plethora of resources available to help you in your search. When seeking a legal internship keep CNS in mind:
- Career Services/Development Department: Your law school has an entire department committed to your success in your future career. This includes not only securing a job post-graduation but also helping you build your resumé throughout law school. The Career Services team is there to help you navigate finding, applying, and securing internship opportunities, interviews, and more. Take advantage of this resource.
- Networking: It is never too early to start building your professional network. Join local Bar Associations and Chapters, volunteer, and get involved in your local legal community. In addition to traditional networking, social media has become a driving force in networking. Join local attorney Facebook groups, connect with employers on LinkedIn, and be actively involved virtually. Expanding your professional network can help you secure internship opportunities that may not have come about otherwise.
- Search Legal Internship Job Postings: Just like future career opportunities, internship positions are often published as job postings. Check for job postings through your law school, LinkedIn, and other popular job posting websites. If you are interested in a particular employer, check their website for job postings or information on how to apply for an internship.
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Best Companies for Legal Internships
Securing a legal internship can be competitive; therefore, it is important to begin your search early and keep an open mind when exploring potential opportunities. When selecting candidates for legal internships, employers may look at a variety of factors including, but not limited to, grade point average and law school class rank, law school group and organization memberships, previous employment and volunteer positions, unique skills and interests, and extracurricular activities. Internships may be sought from a variety of employers including private law firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and more. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when searching:
- Think big and think small! What type of employer interests you? Technology companies? Sport Leagues? Non-profits? Government? Boutique Law Firms?
- Think outside of your location! Research areas in high demand for attorneys, look for areas with less intern saturation (such as areas with no law schools nearby), and areas that you are interested in living post-graduation.
- Think of other considerations! Is the internship paid? Would you have housing? What is the cost of living in the area? Are you interested in accepting a full-time job offer from that employer?
Legal Internship Cover Letters
Your cover letter is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other candidates through demonstrating strong written communication skills. This may be the only sample of your writing the employer reviews; thus, it is critical that your cover letter be well-organized and well-written. There are a variety of templates available, and your Career Services Department may have a preferred style, however, a cover letter for a legal internship should generally include the following:
- Cover Letter Introduction: Your cover letter should begin with an introduction of who you are and what you are seeking. This typically includes your name, your law school, your class year, and your interest in securing an internship.
- Describe Your Interest: Your cover letter should demonstrate why you are interested in interning for that particular employer. It should be clear from your cover letter that you have spent time researching the employer, their reputation, expertise, and areas of practice. Thus, this section should not be generic and should be uniquely tailored to each employer.
- List Your Qualifications: Your cover letter should highlight your qualifications and accomplishments. This is your opportunity to persuade the employer that you are the best candidate for the internship. Use the job description to directly link your qualifications, experience, and skills to what the employer is looking for in a legal intern.
- Close Strong: Your cover letter should end with a clear closing. Be sure to thank the employer for their time and attention and include your contact information such as your email and/or telephone number.
Legal Internship Interviews
Many legal internships will involve an interview component. The interview process allows the employer the opportunity to gauge whether you would be a good fit for the internship. It also allows you the opportunity to learn more about the employer, their expectations, and about the internship in general. You should be personable and professional. Wear a suit, arrive early, be polite, and come prepared. Before your interview, review commonly asked questions and practice answering the questions. Questions typically fall within one of the following categories:
- Personal: Questions relating to getting to know you on a personal level, including your personality, both professional and personal goals, life experiences, etc.
- Resumé: The employer will likely spend time walking through aspects of your resumé and asking more detailed questions about your education, prior work experience, and current memberships.
- Knowledge of the Employer: Your answers to these questions will often be a telling sign of whether you adequately prepared for your interview by researching the employer ahead of time.
- Legal Knowledge: These questions may inquire about your favorite law school classes, ask about particular areas related to the internship tasks and duties, or may be scenario-based questions.
Further, you should come prepared with questions of your own for the employer. This will demonstrate to the employer your effort to prepare, conduct your own research, and exemplify your interest in this particular internship. Close your interview by thanking the employer for their time, expressing it was a pleasure, and reiterating your interest and excitement to hear from them soon. Following your interview, take the time to hand-write a Thank You note, as this will go a long way in making a lasting impression upon your prospective employer.
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