A lot of first-year law students often ask, “How can they make the most of their first internship?” or “How can the first legal internship help them get closer to their dream job?”
The 1st year summer internship is the first time law students step outside a classroom and dive deep into the practical workings of the legal world. It is the time to use whatever you have learned in the classroom in real life. Your first internship is verily a stepping stone towards shaping your legal career. Which is why it is extremely important to get it right.
Your first legal internship may be at a law firm, NGO, Lawyers chamber ,a government organization etc. The point is to make the most of your time there and embrace the goal of this opportunity – viz., “To understand how legal profession is and how lawyers work.”
In order to make the most of your internship , here are seven tips you can use to take maximum from this opportunity:
- Start thinking about specialties and make your priority in terns of speciliazation in law field
Although it is too early to pick a specialty just yet, your first legal internship is a good place to start thinking about specialties you like and want to pursue. It is also a good starting point to eliminate specialties you are sure you don’t want to pursue. In order to do this, you should observe the people that work in the firm in various specialties and sub-specialties.
Moreover, have an open mind and do all types of assignments in various specialties in order to find one that you are interested in pursuing. Many legal interns who started off being reluctant to a particular kind of law ended up actually liking them at the end of their internships.
- Build a legal network
Your first legal internship is a wonderful way to build your own legal network by meeting other lawyers at social events. So you must resist the temptation to only hang out with other interns. Rather, ask for an introduction to lawyers at the event or go introduce yourself directly to them.
- Learn about Court Mannerism and office culture
Remember, you are stepping into the real world the first time. Here, you will have a unique opportunity to learn about a typical law firm’s office culture, court mannerism and what makes good lawyers good at their job. Use this time to understand how to navigate step by step at the firm and in the court.
- Closely observe how established lawyers deal with a legal problem
How do Lawyers fulfill their client’s needs? How do they solve legal problems? What does the best lawyers in the firm do that makes them stand out from their colleagues? It would help you immensely if you carefully observe and absorb as much information as possible in your first legal internship.
- Learn how to conduct legal research
Frankly, most of your internship will be related to conducting legal research, drafting motions, orders and memos under the supervision of a lawyer. Some tasks may seem simple and straightforward enough, others may be more complicated. You should utilize this time to understand how to conduct legal research, how to write a motion or memo and ask pertinent questions to your supervisor. Know that every task is an opportunity to learn something new or brush up your skills.
- Ask intelligent questions
Remember: You are here to learn! And, the first legal internship is all about learning, growing and observing. So, when you receive an assignment, make sure to ask about what is expected of you. Also, don’t forget to ask about the deadline or timing expectation of every assignment. That way you will never be late in completing a task. If you are unsure of exactly what needs to be done or don’t know the deadline, please ask for clarification.
Moreover, if you finish your assignment early and find yourself with ample time on your hands, ask your supervisor for assignments to work on or use the free time to network with the junior associates, other interns and lawyers at the firm. always make a better usage of your free time than texting and using social media.
- Visualize yourself living their life and being happy
Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is: “Five years from now, do you see yourself living like the associates in the law firm do and being happy?” Is this what you see yourself doing for the rest of your life? Does your personality gel well with the personality of the associates? Do you want their lifestyle?
If you cannot see yourself doing what the associates do, fret not! In your second legal internship, you can choose to work in another specialty.
In conclusion, it can be said that by focusing on learning, growing and the practical aspects of the legal world, your first internship in a law firm can be a great opportunity to shape your legal career. So, make the most of your time and start preparing yourself for a life as a successful lawyer.