Getting the Most From your Internship

 

You just spent an entire year drilling legal theories, concepts, terminology, and cases into your gloriously gyrificated brain. You’ve studied for several years to get to this moment — accepting an unpaid internship. Make no mistake about it, working this hard, only to spend 140 hours of your much-deserved summer, is a hard pill to swallow.

But you know what?

You secured an internship! That’s freaking fantastic! There’s a heap of law students that wish they were in your shoes. Don’t you dare pass up this opportunity to move your career forward. Make your mark.

Here are a few tips for you to make the most of your 1L Summer Internship.

intern

 

  1. Be Kind.
    • This seems so completely unreasonable to write down. Of course, you should be nice and respectable. If you have any sort of home training, you’ll be a decent human being because that’s the right way to behave. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our Dean (a retired Judge) shared this story with us during our first week:
      • He hired a clerk for his chambers. The young guy had great grades and a good suit; looked professional and carried himself well. On the first day of his clerkship (if I am not mistaken) the Judge’s court coordinator, who had spent more than a decade working with the Judge, asked the young man to move some boxes for her. Such a simple task, right? Well, this guy told her that he didn’t spend his life working through his undergrad and law school years only to get a clerkship where he had to do secretary work. Now, imagine what this nice woman said the Judge…?
    • Do not be that jerk. If you can be helpful, that speaks volumes! Make a coffee run, organize files, direct lawyers to the proper courtroom. Do what you can to make people want to have you around. Niceties go a long way.
  2. Dominate Your Tasks.
    • This internship is a foothold for you to further your career. That said, make sure you see every task assigned through to the finish. Do not cut corners, because it will show. These Judges have a plethora of experience, which means they can easily tell the difference between great work, and half-assed work.
    • Own your work and make it stand out – in a good way. Polish your writing assignments, give them a look-over, and edit several times before giving them to your law clerk or Judge.
  3. Re-Read Everything You Publish. Twice.
    • This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip, but I wanted to echo it. Read your work. Step away from it, and then read it again. Go line by line if you have to – because skimping on this is just a bonehead move. Judges and Attorneys want to trust in your abilities, so make it easy on yourself and proof-read your work before handing it off.
  4. Represent Your School with Fierce Pride.
    • Getting this internship could mean potential internships for the students that follow. Keep your eye on the prize. Your work with these judges and attorneys might open the door for other students looking for the same opportunity. By working hard and being memorable, you might be able to inadvertently offer a hand-up to a fellow student. Be the change, little shark. 
  5. Offer Simple Answers.
    • So often we read convoluted cases and lengthy explanations, written in legalese, when fewer words would suffice. That said, you’re still a student. Take the time to figure out a simple way to explain what you need to get across to your audience.
    • Pro Tip: Simple and elegant are not mutually exclusive, don’t let your creativity falter.

 

potential

You’ve got potential.

 

The work you do is important, it can change lives. Learn everything from this internship. Ask questions, especially when uncertain on a particular topic. The judges and attorneys know you aren’t perfect. Their choice to hire you is reflected in what they hope to teach you. Make the most of it!

 

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