Top Five Legal Internships

Top Five Legal Internships

Top Five Legal Internships

Legal internships provide law students with the opportunity to broaden many facets of their “legal personalities.” Internships help students increase their knowledge of the substantive areas of the law while participating in the environment of a real law practice. Interns also make valuable contacts that may provide useful later in practice.

While some internships compensate participants, many do not. Nonetheless, many internship programs allow students to earn school credit. Many of the larger law firms base internship hiring decisions on superior academic performance and skills related to research and writing, thus, law review experience is typically very helpful. Here is a list of the five top legal internships.

1. Judicial Clerkships

This type of internship is probably the most popular law school internship. Students intern for state and federal court judges which helps them gain knowledge not just of the substantive law but also of trial and appellate procedure. Judicial clerkships require interns to do a vast amount of research and writing. The work is challenging and the hours long, but this experience is especially valuable for those seeking to litigate civil cases, criminal cases, or cases on the appellate level.

Judicial interns:

· review briefs, trial records, and other documents,

· research and analyze case law,

· assist in the drafting of bench memoranda and opinions,

· make recommendations regarding the disposition of matters on appeal, and

· brief the judge prior to oral argument.

2. Summer Clerkships

A summer clerkship is the hallmark experience for most law students. These clerkships may provide an avenue to employment with a law firm. Like any internship, summer clerkships are limited, and the competition is high.

Most summer clerkship programs start at the end of the law student’s school year, last anywhere from two to three and a half months, ending at the end of the summer. While there are some clerkships that are offered during the school year, they are much fewer than summer clerkships.

Like a judicial clerkship, a summer clerkship at a law firm is often research and writing intensive. Programs may include mentor assignments and periodic reviews.

3. Legal Clinics

Law school legal clinics give students a significant opportunity to gain legal experience. They typically use second and third-year law students to assist indigent clients in need of legal services allowing students a chance to apply classroom knowledge in real-life situations. Students are supervised by a faculty member and/or practicing attorney.

Examples of legal clinics include representing abused children, litigating fair housing cases, conducting real estate closings for Habitat for Humanity, or drafting a will for elderly clients.

4. Pro Bono work

Lawyers who perform pro bono work help to serve communities which need legal services the most. They also serve underserved populations, such as children and the elderly, who have little or no access to legal services. Like an internship at a legal clinic, pro bono work is yet another way for students to serve the public and developing their legal skills.

5. Externships

Externship programs provide students with the opportunity to work in practice settings outside of law school. Students may gain real work experience in those areas of law in which they are specifically interested.

Students in these programs are usually supervised on-site by a licensed attorney. The result for participants is an opportunity to serve the public, gain daily experience with a real law practice, while learning the substantive law and interpersonal skills necessary for success.

The following are some examples of externships:

· externship in a hospital’s in-house legal department.

· externships for a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.

· externships with a state prosecutor’s office or the U.S. Attorney’s office.

· externships at an area legal aid program.

· externships with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the U.S. Department of Labor.

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