Hello! My name is Aleksandra Ramōn, and I am one of your Peer Educators at the Career Hub. I am studying Law and Public Policy, and like many of you, I am pursuing a career in the legal field. It’s about that time in my academic and professional career—I would like to score a legal internship! It’s a little bit daunting, but don’t worry. I am going to take you along on my internship hunting journey, so when it’s your time to seek out an internship, you will already know exactly what steps to take!
I would also like to note that you do not have to complete a legal internship to get into law school. After speaking with many law school admissions offices, it does not increase nor inhibit your chance of being admitted. However, it can be very helpful to get a legal internship to see if you enjoy working in the legal field. Law school is a big commitment, and a legal internship is an excellent way to develop professionally and increase your sureness about becoming a lawyer. Let’s begin…
STEP 1: Creating or updating your application materials.
This is an important step to complete before you begin any other internship searching actions. Your resume can quickly become outdated, especially following a school year or a summer of working. You want to make sure that you have an immediately recent version of your resume ready to email or hand-deliver to the law firms you may seek out.
- See the O’Neill Undergraduate Resume Template to get started.
- Make sure you update your GPA and any changes to your majors/minors.
- Add new course work if relevant.
- Edit your headlines (BOLDED AND IN CAPS) to fit to the position for which you are applying. For example, add or change a headline to “LEGAL EXPERIENCE” or “PUBLIC SERVICE EXPERIENCE.”
- Add new experiences and positions. Make sure to add summer jobs, internships, membership and leadership positions held within student organizations, and volunteer experience if relevant.
- Add any honors or awards you may have gotten. Were you on the Dean’s List or were you a Founders Scholar? Did you write a paper or do a project that was award-winning? Advertise your accomplishments—it makes you a strong candidate and differentiates you from other potential interns.
STEP 2: Scope out potential law firms that specialize in an area of law in which you are interested.
When it comes to legal internships for undergraduate students, it may be challenging to find open positions on LinkedIn or through online job boards. I have come to find that many law firms allow undergraduate students to intern, but students have to seek those opportunities out themselves. Here are some tips for investigating and finding these opportunities on your own:
- Start a list of prospective internship opportunities. You will be researching many law firms and attorneys, so make a document to keep track of the firms, the attorneys who practice in your areas of interest, and a phone number or email to inquire about internship opportunities.
- A simple Google search for “law firms near me” can be a great start to finding prospective internship opportunities. Visit the websites of the firms, research what areas of law on which they focus, locate their contact information, and get a feel for the culture of their work environment.
- Pay attention to all those billboards on the highway for lawyers! Do a quick Google search of the names of advertised law firms, and find the areas of law in which its attorneys specialize. If its attorneys specialize in an area of law that piques your interest, put that law firm on your list of prospective internship opportunities.
- Use your networking skills to make connections. If you find an attorney whose work inspires you, reach out to them via email, introduce yourself, and inquire about an informational interview. If you know any lawyers, show interest in their work and bring up the fact that you are searching for an internship. If you have friends who know lawyers, ask them to introduce you!
STEP 3: Cold Calling and Getting Your Foot in the Door.
One of the best pieces of advice I have received in my legal internship searching process is to not be afraid to cold call law firms and ask if they have any internship opportunities available. One of my family members worked in an administrative position at a law firm, and she revealed to me that they never post internship openings, but they always have interns. Those interns almost always got their internship because they cold called the law firm and asked to send in a resume, cover letter, and/or writing sample. Here’s some tips on making those phone calls and getting your information into the hands of someone at the firm!
- Prepare a brief elevator pitch for when you make your phone calls. Check out these resources from the Career Hub website to help you craft your elevator pitch.
- There’s a chance you may receive a response that is not ideal. If the person who answers the phone says that the firm is not currently hiring any interns, ask if you can at least send in some application materials via email or drop them off in person.
- If you need to drop off application materials or get called in to do an interview, make sure that you dress in appropriate professional attire. The way you present yourself is important, even if it’s only for a few minutes!
- Do not be discouraged if cold calling does not go as planned. Remember that you may get one hundred “no’s” but all you need is one “yes!”
Now you have some steps to get started on your own journey of finding a legal internship! A legal internship is an excellent way to develop your professional experience, expand your network, and explore your career interests. Be confident in the value of your experience, and market yourself as an asset to any firm for which you may intern. Conduct thorough research about law firms in your area, and use your network as a tool to open doors for possible opportunities. Get out there, be bold, and make those connections. Don’t let a little bit of rejection along the way prevent you from scoring that legal internship. You’ve got this!