Legal Internships: An Intern’s Perspective

“The distinction between ‘assistant’ and ‘intern’ is a simple one: assistants are paid, interns are not. But of course, interns are paid, in experience.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates.

‘How to get an internship?’ ‘What skills do I need to possess?’ ‘Will I get paid as an intern?’ ‘How do I blend into the culture of an organization?’ ‘What would be my work profile?’ ‘How many internships should I do to make my CV impressive?’ These are few of many questions that passes through a law student’s mind. However, there is only one answer to all these questions – Worry less and keep moving forward.

Legal internships are an integral part of every law school’s curriculum and each law student benefits differently from these internships. However, there are numerous myths about legal internships, and this blog aims to break a few of those.

Some of the most popular misconceptions surrounding legal internships are:-

Everything you watch on the television isn’t completely true.

The famous web series titled ‘Suits’ has inspired thousands of students across the globe, to pursue law, where the depiction of the profession is not entirely correct. The luxurious life as it is shown, does not come without hard work and grind. Lawyers reach at that position through gaining expertise over the subject area along with taking up internships right from second year of law school. The more you work hard, the better you become. Do not forget, it ultimately is a fiction show and is created to impress you.

“I am underqualified for this internship”

Never underestimate yourself. In legal profession, you should never say NO to anything. The least you can do is ‘try’. You can seek counsel from your professors and career counsellors to identify the right internship and then prepare for it accordingly. You can apply for internships through the internship department at your law school or look at different websites like Internshala, lets intern etc. that helps law students like you find suitable internships.
Strive for it and you will earn it if you deserve it.

Bigger the firm, better the internship.

Internship is all about learning and experiencing the challenges of the profession early on. Explore different fields and search for your interests. You might come across the best suited internships with the firms or organizations you have never heard of. It is often the lesser-known organizations that offer better learning opportunities. Bigger organizations do not always have the time to focus on the growth of their interns which is usually the opposite for smaller organizations. Lastly, you should try to choose an internship based on your area of interest and not base it on a firm’s brand image.

You should only intern in the field of law where you want to build your career.

You should try interning in various fields while you are in your law school because that is the only time to experiment, fail and then grow as a lawyer. Only by working at various types of organizations and in different fields of law, would you finally understand your true calling in the legal profession. By doing so, you get to know not only about different practical applications of law but also about the different working culture which would hold great value going forward.

NLU students are always preferred over non-NLU students.

If there is anything which matters more than your university’s name is your CV which is reflective of your personality. Grades, co-curricular and extracurricular, publications, and previous internships are amongst the primary things that matter for a law student to secure a genuine internship.

An unpaid internship is not worthy.

I agree that it is difficult to work for free, but the non-pecuniary benefits i.e. the learning and the experience outweighs the monetary benefits. Internships help in enhancing the knowledge of law, its practical application, building connections, developing extra skills, realizing strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly it increases you chance to secure a job at the same place in case the supervisor has had a pleasing experience with you.

These are some of the popular myths which most law students ponder upon. This blog is written straight from the writer’s internship experiences with various organizations, advocates, and judges, over a period of three years in law school. Last but not the least – Legal career requires your hard & smart work, persistence, commitment, and slogging, but it is undoubtedly an incredibly engrossing and rewarding career if one learns to do things right.