Important Considerations for a Successful Legal Internship
September 27, 2017
It is now expected of all law students to go through with at least two legal internships before they graduate. This is inclusive of clerkships, fellowships, externships and even a part time law job while still in law school. As a law student it will prepare you to face future challenges as it helps in building practical hands-on legal skills and getting high powered recommendations from legal luminaries. It will also help you to be known among the legal fraternity and assist you in developing relationship with legal firms that can be your long term partners in future. With such high stakes it is imperative that you go out of the way to optimise your performance at the internship level.
Here are a few important considerations for a successful legal internship.
Laying the groundwork – Before Day 1 of your internship spend some time researching the culture, work areas, mission, specialisations and history of the organisation. It will help you to blend in seamlessly within the firm from the very beginning. Always stay focussed on the job delegated to you. Interns notoriously face a tough life initially and are treated as second class citizens – the worst located work stations, faulty computers and systems and phones and the most difficult supervisors to work with. However, if you can, in spite of these be enthusiastic about the work allotted to you and contribute to the team as a whole you are bound to get noticed sooner or later and will be given higher responsibilities.
Be precise and accurate in your work – As a successful attorney in your later life, you will be expected to be accurate in whatever you do, especially eliminating any typographical errors. Hence, the time to cultivate the practice is NOW during internship. Be precise and ensure accuracy. Nobody will praise you for precision but will be quick to point out your mistakes. Further, listen carefully what your assigning attorney has to say, more so if it is in the stream of work that you plan to follow later. For example, if being a well established property settlement lawyer is your ultimate goal, go out of your way to learn as much as possible on the subject.
Managing stress levels – Strange as it may sound, your internship should be stressful and should stretch you out of your comfort zone. You will thus be able to grow as a professional and feel what the top lawyers in this field have to go through. The work environment of say, a property conveyancer in Melbourne is not easy. Only if you go through difficult times now as an intern will you be ready for your future career and get a feel of what it is likely to be. However, on the flip side you should take steps to manage your stress levels well so that stress does not lead to poor performance and health.
Optimise legal research assignments – Research is a very crucial task of lawyers and attorneys and hence you should take it very seriously whenever you are assigned such a task. You will definitely be asked during your internship to research a legal aspect and present it verbally or in writing. Make the most of these tasks to sharpen your research and presentation skills and make sure that your work is thorough and impressive.
Legal internship is a stepping stone to a successful legal career and the first taste of what life can be for a busy and reputable lawyer. Seize this opportunity to get used to the work environment of the legal profession.