There is good variety in the number and type of law internships available to college students or graduates who are considering entering law school, and those who are already enrolled in law school. Several hub sites on the internet have listings of organizations and firms that offer law internships. Among these are 4LawSchool.com, the Career Services Center, the Legal Internships Home Page, and Internships-USA.com.
The educational path to becoming a lawyer can be very different from other careers. Although many colleges offer a pre-law program, such a degree is not required for law school. Having taken certain courses will be helpful, but having good grades, passing the LSAT, and showing an aptitude for writing and reasoning skills are most important. Law schools do not quantitatively consider whether an applicant has completed a law internship. However, young people who have completed an internship are more likely to have a good idea of whether a career in law is really worth the effort. Law school can be a long struggle, and it’s smart to have taken a look at whether the legal world is really the place to spend a lifetime.
Law internships are offered by such diverse entities as the US Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Whistleblower Center, the US Department of State, or the Sierra Club. More neutral offerings may come from the American Bar Association. Many private firms are looking for interns to help with the work load. Many organizations which utilize interns have a particular ideology, and a student is likely to fit in better if they can embrace that stance. Law is a polarizing field.
A law intern can expect to do a lot of work behind the scenes. Typical duties include law clerking (research and legal writing), office tasks, and client billing. For non-profits, duties may include participation in public advocacy, public rights education, or lobbying.
Applicants for a law internship usually will be expected to have good grades, have a commitment to the mission of the entity offering the position, provide references, and submit a writing sample. Other highly sought after skills include organizing experience, good interpersonal skills, self-motivation and the ability to work independently.
Some positions may be funded, while others may provide academic credit. Many offer experience alone. Completing an internship is a way to see a career from the inside before committing to a long and expensive education.