In addition to learning the Socratic method, a whole new way of note-taking, and a level of studying and memorization never previously seen, law school students also must decide what type of internships to do in order to land the right job. Positive internship experiences can lead to letters of recommendation and a foothold into the highly competitive world of networking. Another advantage of law school is that students have plenty of time to diversify their internships to be more well-rounded, instead of only focused on one type of law. Throughout your law school career, it is possible to find a new direction or calling, which is why it is vital to divide up internships.
There are several different types of law internships to choose from, but it’s wise to start with a research internship. This is a skill that you are going to rely upon heavily so it’s recommended to dive right in learning how to do it properly.
On-the-job training is where students are really going to experience what life is like after graduation. Law firm internships are where students learn the tools of the trade by filing, doing extensive legal research, assisting with clients, and helping lawyers with paperwork and courtroom preparation. Judicial clerkships provide direct assistance and counsel to a judge in making legal determinations and in writing opinions by researching issues before the court.
Legal clinics are for students looking to make a difference in the world by helping underprivileged individuals. Unpaid internships in public service law firms are less glamorous but well worth the ethical payout for those individuals seeking this path of law. The Legal Aid Society provides unpaid internships for high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students.
Summer clerkships are extremely popular with students who are looking to gain experience in a larger law firm setting. Also known as “summer associates”, these students are compensated for assisting attorneys over a 10-12 week period throughout the summer months. In addition to gaining experience and networking, a student has the potential to receive a pre-placement offer (PPO) which ensures a job after graduation in a firm they are already familiar with.
As students get further into their law school careers, they might decide on a specific niche to focus on. There are plenty of students who want to do area-specific internships like real estate law, tax law, sports law, and banking law, to name a few. It makes sense, therefore, to focus internships on these specific areas.