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    Law Internships: How To Find Your Best Fit, How They Help, And More

    By HemRaj Singh
    5 Oct'22  8 min read
    Law Internships: How To Find Your Best Fit, How They Help, And More
    Synopsis

    Are you considering opting for a law course or already pursuing one? If yes, law internships will be a part and parcel of your journey. Here are a few things about law internships that will ease off your higher education journey and help you align your law firm internships’ expectations with what’s waiting for you.

    Law Internships: How To Find Your Best Fit, How They Help, And More
    Synopsis

    Are you considering opting for a law course or already pursuing one? If yes, law internships will be a part and parcel of your journey. Here are a few things about law internships that will ease off your higher education journey and help you align your law firm internships’ expectations with what’s waiting for you.

    As daunting as it may sound, the question of finding fitting law internships is not that hard a question to answer even though it leads to a number of smaller but equally important questions before one finds one’s way to the desired nugget of worldly wisdom.

    Align Your Expectations

    What kind of law internships would work best for you would depend largely on what you are set to gain from it, and whether it is what you really want from it.

    Law Firms Won’t Teach You

    Before we get into that, let’s be perfectly clear about one thing: law firm internships and law chambers are not law schools, and the last thing they want to do is teach you something. So if you want to get a better hang of the law by interning, you are trying to pluck mangoes off a lemon tree. Not happening; not that kind of a plant, that thing. Its fruits are thorny and sour and perhaps good for your professional health, but you are not going to like the taste of them. And if, at any point of time during your law internship, you start enjoying it and start having fun and all, sit back and reappraise: you are either at the wrong place for the purpose, or you are not doing the interning the way it’s supposed to be done for it to bear any fruits, lemons or mangoes or fat paychecks.

    Also Read | 6 Emerging Legal Fields For New Lawyers

    Soak In The Environment

    If learning the law is off the table, one might wonder what purpose law internships really serve. As a matter of fact, law internships are opportunities to dip one’s toes in the waters one might be thinking of jumping into before one decides to take a plunge. If it’s too hot or too cold for you, you can retract to safety well before you are scorched or frost-bitten. And that’s how law internships need to be looked at. During an internship, a law student is supposed to soak in as much of the work environment as one can and see if one is comfortable with that kind of professional life. But for that, you need to look at the work life of an average person working in the field, and not at those who have made a name for themselves already.

    Also Read | Things About Corporate Law Practice Aspiring Lawyers Should Know

    Bring Novelty To The Table

    The mistake most youngsters make is that they are inspired by the most successful people in the field and set out to emulate them by imitation rather than hard-work and ingenuity, ignoring the plain fact that even the best imitation is little more than a second-rate copy of the original. Not that one cannot attain the greatness someone else achieved in the past but one cannot take the exact same path and achieve the exact same success. This is for the simple reason that the world remains in constant flux and while the fundamentals of success remain the same (hard work, talent, humility and so on), how the ingredients of success come together to make success happen for a given person in a given field keeps changing. If this is hard to understand, just consider the top lawyers in the history of India. You would find that they had the same basic characteristics that all successful people have, and then those characteristics that all successful lawyers have, and yet they were not exactly alike, for each of them brought something of their very own to the table, making their story of success unique.

    law internships, legal internship, internship for law students, law firm internships, Law internship for fresher, law commission of india internshipBringing Novelty To The Table Helps You Gain More From Your Law Internships

    Also Read | Intern Speak On Their Experiences At Law Firms

    What’s Not For Internships To Provide

    Legal education, for one. It’s very important to understand what internships for law students cannot do for you, and what you should not look to gain from them:-

    • First and foremost, they are not meant to teach you the law because the right place to pick that is the law school.
    • Also, the law internships would not give you a “hands-on” experience of law practice in any area either because the seniors would not abandon the reins of anything even remotely significant to your rookie hands. Legal matters are all too important to be careless about at any stage or level. So hands-on experience of law firm internships , it is not going to be, no matter what they tell you and no matter what you delude yourself into believing.
    • In law internships, you are not really “responsible” for anything, properly speaking, which is why you are not expected to shoulder any crucial responsibility, the repercussions of failing at which might rock the boat for the client or the firm.

    Also Read | What Should You Expect After A 5-Year Law Degree?

    However, you are still close enough to the scene of action to learn from observations although such learning has its limitations, and one must be very alive to that at all times. Don’t think for even a second that simply because you have seen someone do something, you’ll be able to replicate the results by going about it the exact same way. That’s a mistake a lot of new entrants to the legal profession make, especially when it comes to presentation. What worked for one person in a given situation may not work for another either because the situation is different or the person is on this side of the table or that. And it is particularly true of the legal profession, especially if you join it on the litigation side and argue before a real court. So focusing on the basics would do perfectly well for you at this stage. Do that.

    Also Read | Intern Speak: Internships Offer Many Benefits

    What Internships Can Do For You

    Law Internships are opportunities for one to explore possible career options for the future. So they give you an excellent opportunity to watch the game from the sidelines without having anything of your own at stake.

    Assist Your Seniors

    In your law internships, you can try your hands at the smaller things, assisting your seniors and see if you are any good at those things. For instance, if a contract is assigned to be drafted and the client does not urgently need the draft contract and your senior is a bit too tied up to immediately attend to it, you may gently request the senior to allow you to have a go at it. When he or she gets around to correcting your draft, you can learn a lot from the corrections. In some cases, you might want to ask, if it is unclear, why it is better to say something a different way than the way you had put it. In most cases, the senior would explain it to you, and in some cases, he or she might just tell you that it reads better. You may or may not agree with it, but it’s better to come back to the draft a little later and check if your version was really better than your senior’s. Chances are, you would find that the clarity or cleverness that you thought was there in your draft earlier had suddenly fled the document while you were away, and now the senior’s version makes a lot more sense, and is probably the only one of the two versions that does any kind of justice to the client’s needs.

    Help With Networking

    Another thing that law internships can do only to a limited extent is, connect you to those who matter in the field. During your law internships, you are likely to come in contact with some of the leaders of the profession, and it might sometimes lead to a lasting association, but it doesn’t happen as often as people think because a senior might dislike you for exactly the same reasons for which another senior might like you, and you might never know because lawyers, in general, are pretty good at hiding what they really think about someone and although some of them are particular about letting you know their distaste of you, mostly they are overtly polite and gentle. So the “making connections”bit is largely a matter of chance, and you would do better to not focus on that as a goal, for you might come across as clingy and unreliable, if you push things on that front even a little bit. Go for an internship where you can have a ringside view of a variety of legal work so that you could find your niche.

    Also Read | Intern Speak: Experiences of Interns In HR Industry

    Try A Variety Of Internships

    Try a variety of law internships so that you have a varied bunch of experiences to compare before you settle for a particular stream of practice. It’s not always what you like and what fascinates you that’s the best thing for you to settle for because many times what you like is not exactly what you are good at. A good combination at law firm internships of what you are good at and what you can get better at with some practice and effort is a good deal because it gives one sufficient room for career advancement and skill upgrade without getting too difficult to deal with on a daily basis.

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    Internships for law students are good for testing your abilities in different fields, doing different things. More than learning, it’s a testing experience. Any other approach to internships is the wrong approach, including the one where you look at internships as glowing stars on your resume that would bat for you when you send out your resume to a prospective employer. Your future employer is most likely to know that your law internships’ experience doesn’t really reflect your abilities or skills, which can only be tested on the job. Some employers might value it a bit more than others, but just about nobody is going to count it for real “experience” of any sort.

    Keeping the things mentioned above in mind, ask around, talk to your seniors and your classmates who might have their law internships’ experiences to share at different places, and then try some of those based upon the input you get. You might even end up joining a firm or law chamber that you once interned with, and that happens very often. But try a variety of them and gather as much varied experience as you can before making up your mind to settle for something.

    Also Read | Interns Speak On What It Is Like To Work With A Start-Up

    HemRaj Singh is a Delhi-based trial lawyer, specialising in both civil and criminal trials, and writes mainly on law, policy, diplomacy, and international relations. Apart from writing for magazines and websites, including Careers 360, practicing law and teaching Legal Reasoning and Critical Reasoning, he is Editor-at-Large with Lawyers Update, a monthly magazine on law and legal affairs, and was Legal Editor with Universal Law Publishing Company before he started practicing law.

    • Law
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    • Justice
    • Issues in ethics
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