Students can and should take advantage of the internship opportunities offered through their law school. Even more importantly, students should take these temporary openings seriously and perform as if the positions were permanent. Why? Because some day they could be.
Determine a Direction
Internships provide first-hand experience in the legal profession and a close look at the day-to-day responsibilities that come with being an attorney. Ideally, students will have the opportunity to speak with lawyers and pick their brains. Students can freely ask questions and pay attention to how they work.
Another benefit from having an internship is gaining insight into what type of law a student would want to—or not want to—pursue after graduation from law school. Someone might think about becoming a criminal defense attorney, but then intern for a corporate law firm and realize that is what they would prefer to practice instead.
A Better Understanding of the Law
While law school teaches you the fundamental substantive law you need to know to “think like a lawyer,” the key is learning how to apply those concepts and principles learned in the classroom to situations in the real world. An internship offers students that opportunity but it will also benefit them when they’re studying for the bar exam.
It’s one thing to read about civil procedure in a textbook or even talk about it in class, but it’s completely different when a student is involved with a case from beginning to end in and has to put that procedure into practice. The result is a better understanding of the law.
An internship at a law firm can definitely come in handy when it’s time to take the bar exam. Instead of grasping for words when having to write those six essays and desperately trying to remember what their textbooks said, students can reflect on their experience and put it into words. The same goes for when they start their legal career.
Completing a law firm internship makes law school graduates more marketable to employers. They want to see that they’ve done more than just go to class and earn passing grades. Internships exemplify their dedication to learning as much as possible about the law, not just in the classroom, but in the real world.
Introduction to Professionalism
Whether your internship places you in a courtroom, in front of clients, or has you behind a desk in an office, you’ll see how lawyers conduct themselves. Seeing how lawyers treat their clients, support staff, their fellow attorneys, court personnel, and judges will help prepare you for similar interactions when you interview and go on to begin your career. Simply knowing how to behave in a professional setting will help ensure that you never stand out for the wrong reasons.