Do you have a legal internship this summer? Congratulations! Legal internships are the most valuable work experience you could obtain during law school. Since I have had a legal internship, Rule 9, and legal externship, I’ve learned some things (not an expert, of course). Below are my top tips!
Create something you can take away at the end of the internship. If there is one thing I told you to do for your internship, it is to find someway to document your experience. I made it a point to create a binder of all the things I learned at every legal position I held. Remember not to put sensitive information in your documents! For example, I created a skeleton outline for a motion, recorded commonly used acronyms and phrases, and created a guide on how to draft and file a motion for summary judgment. BEST THING I EVER DID FOR MYSELF.
Set goals. Having goals in mind before you begin your internship will help you get the most out of it. For me, having a path and ascertainable goals helps me stay motivated and feel like I’m really moving forward. Don’t forget to communicate your goals with your supervisor!
The Emergency Suit. While I was a Rule 9, I kept an emergency suit in my office at all times. While I was a legal intern, I kept an emergency blazer. It is important to keep these clothes in your workspace because you never know what will come up that day. For example, as a Rule 9, you never know when you will be pulled into a hearing and you always want to look your best. As a legal intern, I wasn’t in court, but clients would occasionally drop-by unannounced and I wanted to make sure the image I presented to our client was clean and professional.
Keep a pad-folio too. Along with the suit, I feel like a nice presentable pad-folio is good to have on hand to carry documents. I just feel like you look more presentable and confident when you appear organized. When there are depositions, hearings, or meetings, you will be happy that you kept all your papers in one place.
Pack lunch. Don’t rely on having time to grab food. For the first few weeks, make sure you pack a lunch because you don’t know what to expect and the last thing you want is to be starving while stressed.
Introduce yourself and make an effort to meet everyone at the office. Within the first week, go around the office and introduce yourself. Get to know names, who you will see often, and make a nice first impression. It’s okay if you don’t remember all the names or reach everyone, just make a good effort and time will take care of the rest. I found that people are more willing to approach you and communicate effectively when you introduce yourself in a neutral and positive atmosphere.
You’re not expected to know everything, but try to struggle before asking questions. I am very stubborn and concerned about seeming like I am inexperienced, so I tend to avoid reaching out for help. Don’t be like me. Strike a good balance between knowing that you are not an expert (you’re still a law student!) and attempting to struggle with something before asking questions. Taking a moment to struggle and reevaluating why you don’t know the answer will make you seem less inexperienced and more like an exceptional student learner.
Reflect. Take some time to reflect on your experience, progress, improvements, and positivity. Usually summer legal internships are 10 weeks. It won’t feel like much, but you will learn a tremendous amount during those 10 weeks. Always reflect on both the positives and needed improvements. Reflection will help you be the best version of yourself going forward and make you realize how much you’ve truly learned. Maybe keep your reflections in your internship binder!
I hope these tips will help you make the most of your summer internship. If you want any more advice or information, feel free to contact me.