The vast majority of law firm internships are summer programs geared toward law students, usually those nearing the end of their studies. Undergraduate internships may be available for undergraduate students who are considering law school in the future, depending on the firm. As many different types of law firm internships as there are law firms, there are many different types of law firm internships. Others are more nuanced, providing expertise in a much smaller range of tasks. Some allow interns to experience a variety of different practice areas, while others are more nuanced, providing expertise in a much smaller range of tasks. Students typically apply for internships at law firms based on their own practice area interests as well as the firm’s overall reputation.
Internships are frequently viewed law students as a path to a job after graduation, and many, particularly those at the largest firms, are structured in this way. Being chosen for an internship at a prestigious firm is usually a difficult task. Interns, on the other hand, typically spend the summer proving themselves and hoping for a more permanent job offer once the fall semester begins.
This outward structure is common in big firm internships, but the substance and day-to-day life of interns can vary significantly depending on the firm and its needs. Interns’ primary role is to assist the firm in managing its workload while also learning more about the legal profession. Interns usually gain experience in the firm’s main line of business. Interns in a firm that focuses on family law may learn about the paperwork involved in divorce proceedings, while those in a firm that focuses on business mergers and acquisitions may learn about the nuances of business mergers and acquisitions.
Internships at smaller law firms are frequently unique. Work in a small firm is usually less prestigious, and internships are frequently underpaid. However, many interns in these settings perform more hands-on work. They are frequently hired as direct assistants to attorneys, and they may gain experience attending court, filing actual documents, and drafting motion briefs. Large firms typically hire paralegals to handle these tasks, with interns serving primarily as research assistants to the partners.
Small firms are also often the only places where college students can get internships at law firms. College students interested in learning about the law as a possible career path will occasionally find positions in smaller offices. Summer internships for undergraduates are frequently administrative in nature, with interns doing basic copying, filing, and phone-based work. In most jurisdictions, handling case files or contributing to litigation material is restricted to lawyers, paralegals, and law students.
The majority of law firm internships are paid, but not all of them are. Unpaid internships are most common in small law firms, especially those with only one or two attorneys. Many college students work part-time or for no pay. Students frequently consider the value of a law firm internship in terms of career development and resume cache to be well worth any financial loss.