Expectations of Legal Interns, Part One
It is an exciting event when law students become legal interns for the first time. The scope of the responsibilities associated with an internship may vary from one firm to the next based on the number of attorneys an intern serves. An intern’s specific tasks vary based on the area of law the firm practices. Whatever an intern’s duties and jobs, no matter how exciting or mundane, the attorneys, office manager, and staff, have expectations of an intern’s performance. But then, so does every intern have high expectations in an internship.
*Observe, learn . . . do
From the moment an intern walks past the reception desk into the office on the first day, he or she gets to experience and observe life in a law office first-hand. However brief this glimpse of one firm’s particular practice, it will help the intern better assimilate in the future when beginning and developing his or her law practice.
During this experience it is vital that an intern learn as much as possible, whether it is a tip on writing an effective motion, deciding on whether to represent a client, or managing time and structuring a daily and weekly schedule.
However, it’s also important for interns to remember that their superiors have expectations of them, especially when learning the facets and workings of the firm’s practice. Interns are expected to not have to be told more than once how to do something. When performing daily tasks, no matter how menial, interns must expediently learn how to perform a task adequately, even if this necessitates asking more than a few questions. Amassing as much information and knowledge as possible, and more, during an internship will pay dividends in the future after graduation when the transition to attorney-advocate truly begins.
*Perform legal research
No matter where a legal internship takes place, the odds are very high that someone in the firm will require some legal issue, statute, or court decision researched. Interns will inevitably be asked to perform research projects that may require fifteen minutes to fifteen hours of time. This is a good opportunity for interns to develop, improve, and solidify their legal research skills, especially since the odds are also very high that some attorneys at the firm will note and correct any deficiencies in an intern’s legal research abilities. Yet another learning opportunity for a legal intern.
Research tasks include fact-checking, reviewing precedents, analyzing statutes, and drafting organized well-written memorandums communicating the findings of the research project, which is an opportunity to sharpen legal writing skills for an intern. Any research must be compiled, organized, and presented based on the preferences and requirements of the supervising attorney. The process of performing research and presenting the findings is an excellent chance for interns to use and develop analytical, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. These are the types of skills that law firms value highly. Interns that display these skills at a high level may find that their internship leads to future employment at the same firm.
The second part of this article will address interns assisting attorneys in the courtroom. Stay tuned!
The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) has served the residents of the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley for nine years. It won’t be long before we joyously and proudly celebrate our tenth anniversary! At CDTA, The California Desert Trial Academy is a 21st Century law school tailored to meet the needs of working people. Any lawyer must study and know the law. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. At CDTA, we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.