One of the best things that you can do as a law student is look beyond the books. I know that’s hard to think about when it seems like the amount of homework just won’t quit, but there are other experiences in law school that you really need to collect. If you get too much into your studies, you will miss the opportunity to land an internship while you’re in school. Now, you might think that an internship really isn’t a big deal, but it is on many levels.
Let’s start with the most obvious — you need to get actual experience in the real world before you can feel comfortable going after the big jobs. In addition, law school is expensive and many internships are actually paid. This means that you will be able to make a little bit of money before school starts up again, which can help you get that textbook or even that shiny new laptop that you were thinking about picking up.
There are other hidden benefits of going for an internship. One of the biggest benefits around is the power of networking. You will be exposing yourself to dozens of people during your internship that could all be helpful in getting a job. When you really care about doing a good job, you never know who will speak well of you, or who will offer you another opportunity. There is also room for a little freelance work on the side, if you have enough discipline. Even though you will not be a licensed attorney at law, there are plenty of legal jobs that you can do on the side while you go to law school. There is something powerful about making connections, but you don’t want to fall in to the trap of classifying your connections before you’ve really had a chance to make them work. Every connection at this point matters, so don’t think that you get to really think about it in terms of who is important and who isn’t important. You will need to value every connection you have at this stage. That dorky receptionist that seems to always be on your case just might have a family member that could use some clerk help next summer, too.
When you’re trying to go for an internship, it’s important to make sure that you’re just as prepared for the experience, if not more prepared than other people in your class going for it. Good grades are a must, but above that you will need to start thinking about how you can be an asset. What skills are you bringing to the table? This is where I feel that people that are pursuing law as a second career really have the upper hand, because they can draw on the experiences from their first career. For example, a licensed accountant would definitely be useful in a law firm, especially if they handle tax clients. You want to make sure that you put all of your credentials out there, just in case someone is looking for something that you didn’t really think about.
Don’t get discouraged if your phone doesn’t immediately start ringing off the hook. Remember that every internship position is going to get a lot of different responses, and this means that you will need to really deal with the possibility of rejection. Does that mean that you stop right then and there? Well, only if you really don’t want a law career after all.
The truth is that you will need to fight a lot of rejection at every turn, but it’s worth it in the end when you finally get that acceptance letter. Ready to get started? Great — jump in today!