5 Pointers For Benefiting From A Legal Internship

  • Learn Research And Communication Skills
  • Start Building A Network
  • Adapt To Office Culture
  • Ask Questions
  • Determine Career Suitability

Legal internships are a great way for potential legal professionals to gain work experience while still in school. Students can learn the ropes and truly determine if this career is the right choice for them. What follows are five tips for students to make the most out of their first legal internship.

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1. Learn Research And Communication Skills

Research skills, as well as both written and verbal communication skills, are integral to the legal profession. Students should use their first internship to learn how to conduct thorough and quality legal research. This includes becoming familiar with both law libraries as well as online law research resources such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. Students should practice their writing skills when drafting correspondence and other legal documents. If possible, sit in on a witness or client interview to see how the attorney or paralegal interacts with the interviewee. Points to observe include what kinds of questions they ask and how they ask them.

2. Start Building A Network

One task all students in an internship need to do is begin establishing their professional network. A professional network will help a student land jobs through connections. Even if network connections don't lead directly to a job, internship experience is a source of valuable professional references. Most employers will require professional references, meaning students who have completed an internship will already have an advantage over their peers who did not. Students who can find a mentor will likely be even better off.

3. Adapt To Office Culture

Students who have never worked in an office setting before will do well to learn how it all works. Each individual office is different, but general office culture and etiquette is important to understand no matter what occupation a student ends up in. At an internship, students will gain a clear picture of how law offices run and function. There are also likely to be office politics on some level, and learning how that game is played and adapting to it are extremely helpful for students.

4. Ask Questions

Asking intelligent questions will help students get the most out of their legal internships. They will be less likely to make mistakes in performing their everyday duties. Students should ensure they understand legal topics not only so they can succeed in future college classes, but also so they can be valuable employees at a firm. As outlined by the American Bar Association's resource site for law students, students should be sure to ask for clarification if they don't know how to do something as well as ask for more to do if they complete a task. This will show initiative.

5. Determine Career Suitability

Finally, students should be using their legal internship to determine if this career is the one they wish to pursue. Actually working in a law office gives students the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. They will also experience both the positives and negatives of this line of work. Students who love the work they do at their internship in spite of the negatives are good candidates for continuing to pursue a career in the legal industry.

Students who have been lucky enough to secure a legal internship should plan to make the most of it. Legal internships are a great way for students to get their feet wet in the legal field.

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