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Law School Success

Tips for Finding Internships for Law Students

Tips for Finding Internships for Law Students
First, the bad news: as a law student, your summers probably will not be spent sipping margaritas on the beach. As many lawyers will tell you, summers during law school are the time to build your network and plant the seeds for your future career. The good news? There are countless opportunities for law students to find interesting, well-paying work during the summer. Below, we’ve listed a few of the most common types of law student internships.

Law Firm Summer Associate

According to the National Association of Law Placement (NALP), over 55% of law school graduates go to work for a private practice law firm, making firms by far the top form of employer for recent graduates. Many of these graduates worked as summer associates at the firms which later hired them.

Most law firms limit their summer associate programs to students who have completed their second year of law school, though there is a growing contingent of firms that have created summer positions for first-year students. And while the majority of formal summer associate programs are found at large law firms, many mid-sized and small firms are willing to take on students in some capacity.

Large firms tend to have a formalized system for recruiting their summer associate classes—many participate in on-campus interviews (OCIs), in which they visit select schools and interview students on-campus. 1Ls who are interested in participating in OCI should work with their career-services office to ensure they get an interview spot with their preferred firms.

For law students considering working at a firm post-graduation, a summer associate position is the ideal opportunity to learn how a firm operates and network with potential future colleagues. Large firms in particular hire almost exclusively from their summer associate pool, making a summer associate experience all but required for those seeking to work at the firm full-time.

If you do land a job as a summer associate, you might want to check out Quimbee’s course, Succeeding as a Summer Associate, where we walk you through everything you need to to know to make the most of your summer.

Judicial Clerkship

Judicial clerkships are considered among the most prestigious positions, as they give clerks personal access to judges in a way that is otherwise impossible. Many judges—particularly at the federal level—hire clerks only in a post-graduate, full-time capacity; however, state and local judges tend to be more open to hiring summer clerks. 

There is no formal hiring process for summer judicial clerkships—each judge has his or her own hiring process. Many federal judges use the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) when hiring their clerks. For a student interested in working as a clerk for a judge who does not utilize OSCAR, it’s likely best to contact the chambers of the judge who that student is interested in working for. The student should ask whether summer clerkships are offered and how to apply for an available clerkship.

Public Interest/Nonprofit

Internships at public interest and non-profit organizations tend to be common for students who have completed their first year of law school. These internships are a great way for students to dip their toes into the waters of legal employment while pursuing work that they find meaningful. Because legal nonprofits are often leanly staffed, they tend to rely on interns to perform substantive work.

Career services offices are well-versed in the available public interest jobs locally; students should also consider reaching out to organizations they are interested in to find out about potential opportunities.

Government Agencies

Countless government agencies offer summer internship opportunities. These jobs allow law students to shadow government attorneys and work on regulations, prepare for cases, and  write memos. While the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies offer the best-known internship programs, local and state governments also have valuable opportunities, with less competition for positions. 

Research Assistant

Many law professors hire students to help them with their research. Working as a research assistant not only helps a student understand how legal scholarship is performed; it’s a great opportunity to form a close relationship with a particular professor. Developing such a relationship is highly valuable throughout one’s career, as a professor’s recommendation can help land a clerkship, a law firm job, and open up a number of other doors. Plus, staying on campus for the summer means not having to find short-term housing in a new city.

In-House Internship 

For many corporate lawyers, working in-house at a corporation is a dream job. Luckily for law students, many major companies offer internships in their legal departments; these internships are often open to both 1Ls and 2Ls. Working in-house gives students the opportunity to see how a company works from the inside. It can also be exciting to work for a brand that everyone knows, or to contribute to a company that you’re actually a customer of.

Securing an in-house internship can be difficult, as most companies do not visit law schools to interview. Students hoping to secure an in-house internship typically must apply through the company’s website. It is often helpful to know someone who works at the company—this is where a school’s alumni network can be vital. Check with your career services and alumni affairs offices to see if there is an alum at your preferred company who might be willing to recommend you for an internship.

But don't forget about class

Nearly every legal employer considers GPA to be a primary metric by which to judge applicants.  For all law students looking to maximize their GPA, there’s no better tool than Quimbee. Whether it’s case briefs, practice exams, outlines, flashcards, or multiple-choice questions, Quimbee has everything students need to make sense of law school. Finding the right legal internship is difficult—Quimbee can help make it just a little easier. Check out Quimbee’s study aids today!