Law internships are important for students who want to practice law -- they serve as an initiation and a practice ground for students. If you are thinking about a legal internship, you should do extensive research as requirements, expectations and general work environments in law firms vary from place to place. There are, however, some general duties that you can expect to do wherever you intern.
Most interns will spend a substantial amount of time doing research and writing. The research conducted by interns varies widely and has a broad variety of purposes. You might be researching prior legislation and looking into precedents or doing fact-checking for a case. Other research-related duties include helping to draft memos, writing legislation and keeping your team updated on current events. The common denominator for all law internships is that you will be doing extensive research and writing about your findings.
Your responsibilities will include keeping up with the reams of paperwork generated by law firms. Your role in organizing the paperwork can include helping attorneys arrange their documents and all of the information and evidence they will need to bring to the courtroom. You also may assist in tracking the development of specific cases. You’ll also be involved in more traditional clerical work such as answering phone calls, writing e-mails and filing.
One of the more exciting duties of a legal intern includes directly helping attorneys with projects. This could range from follow-up work on depositions to participating in client interviews or assisting attorneys in the courtroom. You may be basically on call for any tasks required by the team to which you are assigned. Whether you are assigned to an engaging lawyer who gives you a wealth of opportunities to see the law at work, or to a demanding boss who keeps you mired in paperwork, you will definitely be learning.
Your most important duty as a law intern is to observe the workings of whatever environment you find yourself in. Many students go into law expecting it to always be dramatic and exciting. However, it's important to come to terms with it as a job that, like any other job, has both exciting and mundane parts. Sometimes, the most beneficial part of a legal internship is watching how professionals carry themselves in their day-to-day affairs. Gaining this perspective can help you prepare for your own career and guide your specialty choices.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."