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Finding Law Internships as an undergrad.

hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how find law internships as an undergrad, because it seems like wherever I look its always saying they want L1 or L2/L3 students. I have a resume made, at this point I'm just going to call up law offices in the local area for the summer. Any tips? I have an interest in international law, but I have no idea how to even broach applying for those, it seems most of them are abroad, and I'm working over the summer so I can't go abroad if I got accepted. Any advice really would help. Thank you ahead of time!
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Replies to: Finding Law Internships as an undergrad.

  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,131 Senior Member
    If your parents or their friends are large clients, any law firm will hire you for an internship. Your school’s placement office or alumni network may also be useful for this. Note: you wouldn’t be doing legal work and it wouldn’t be the same job as the 1Ls and 2Ls (who are law school students) do. You’d be helping with things such as marketing or helping with client pitches- nothing “legal”.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 4,808 Senior Member
    You do NOT need "law interships" as an undergrad. When I worked in a large law firm, if an undergrad was hired, it was just for a runner position - literally someone who would walk/run to the court to make a filing. Don't worry about that for undergrad. You need really good grades, a really good GPA, and great letters of recommendation from professors to get into law school.
  • hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    @HappyAlumnus My parents definitely aren't, middle class, I know I wouldn't be doing any legal work, but I'd like to get a bearing of different types of law and what I would want to go into, rather than going to law school blind, wherever I may go.
  • hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    @suzy100 I know about the LSAT and GPA being really important, as well as letters of rec, but I want to go top 10 law schools preferably, I'm willing to work my a** off for it. I just feel like when everyone applying has the LSAT scores and GPA for the T10 I need something else to differentiate me, if you catch my drift?
  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 Registered User Posts: 1,530 Senior Member
    Law internships won't help you get into law school. But they're a really good idea anyways, especially for someone who wants "international law." That's a big red flag that someone doesn't know much about the practice of law. I advise reaching out to your local district attorney, public defender, or legal aid. They're often in the market for free labor. Your undergrad may also have resources to help connect you.

    Also, I did legal work during my internship in college. It was under supervision, of course, but it does happen. Different firms work different ways.
  • thetransfercoachthetransfercoach Registered User Posts: 176 Junior Member
    I have mixed feelings on the usefulness of law internships for undergrad. I did one the summer after my freshman year, and I will tell you this:

    -- The work you do will in NO WAY be reflecting of what actual lawyers do. (You've probably figured that out by now, but I just wanted to be clear.) You will be working as a legal assistant at best or a case researcher. You will not be analyzing cases, writing briefs, or doing any of that stuff.

    -- Like the above poster says, it won't even help you get into law school. Law schools care about GPA + LSAT/GRE. They MAY care about some really spectacular work experience like Peace Corps, starting a really successful business or non-profit, etc. But working at a law firm is def. not considered "really spectacular work experience."

    -- It won't really help you network. I mean, maybe if you live in a tiny town and everyone knows each other AND you maintain those relationships for years and years until you're out of law school... but probably not.

    -- What it WILL do is give you an idea of the culture of what you're looking to do. For example, whether you work at a law firm, an agency, or whatever setting, you will get an idea of how stressful it is to work there, what kinds of people work there, the hours they work, etc. If you just want to immerse yourself in the CULTURE of "law," then it may be worthwhile. But it's not like, a strategy to get into law school or be guaranteed a job afterwards by any means.
  • hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    @Demosthenes49 I know its a big red flag, I don't much about what the different law fields are and entail. I want an internship to help get exposure to that tbh. I saw for the district attorney in my area but for the summer I missed most of the days since I started looking for this a bit late :/

    @thetransfercoach I don't want it for law schools, I want it for the exposure tbh, I want to explore different legal fields and kind of figure out what I'd like to go into before law school.

    Thank you both! If any tips on how to get them outside of undergrad resources, I'm a CCC transfer, waiting on UC decisions.
  • runnersmomrunnersmom Registered User Posts: 1,864 Senior Member
    What do you even mean by international law? Cross-border corporate transactions, international arbitration, cases that will end up in an international tribunal like The Hague, immigration law? International law is a buzzword that means many different things and many larger firms do something that could be labelled "international" law. You are in California...if you are in or near any of the major legal markets (San Diego, LA, SF, Silicon Valley), almost any firm will have some exposure to "international" work. Whether any will hire undergrads for anything other than administrative work, that's another question altogether.
  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 Registered User Posts: 1,530 Senior Member
    @hailey5799: That's ok! You have the right mindset, which is to get an internship and start learning what there is. I highly encourage it. No reason you can't intern during the school year. Your college may even offer credit (this is how I did my internship). Or you can wait for next summer.
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,131 Senior Member
    edited April 4
    FYI in the private sector there is really no such thing as "international law". You practice the law of the jurisdiction where you're admitted to the bar, and you outsource all other law (even other US states' law) to other firms in those other jurisdictions. Even if you could practice "international law", there's nothing glamorous about it in the private sector; pushing paper in an office is most of my practice, and deals that have foreign buyers or foreign investors or the like just mean that conference calls happen at bad hours (5am, 9pm, etc.). You can work with a firm whose head office is not in the US, and you will then have to travel a lot internationally (I did), but going to Dublin for a one-day meeting with your co-workers, in a hotel conference room, is certainly not as enjoyable as study abroad in Dublin, for example.

    If only I'd known!
  • hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    @runnersmom That's the point, I have no idea, I was interested in international humanitarian law, but I really don't know much about international law, I'm curious is all, trying to figure it out. What are the different branches and what do they entail typically? Thank you!

    @Demosthenes49 I might just try for the school year next semester and next summer, since I found out about all of these a bit late. At least I know about them now. Thank you!

    @HappyAlumnus You've worked in a branch of international law? What type did you work in? What was it like? Thank you in advance, I'm just curious :)
  • runnersmomrunnersmom Registered User Posts: 1,864 Senior Member
    edited April 4
    There is really no such thing as "international law"...as @HappyAlumnus noted, it's either practicing in an international jurisdiction or working with clients who happen to be located somewhere other than the US. Most international humanitarian work is done by lawyers who work for non-profit organizations, unless you are talking about being an immigration lawyer in the US. If you are talking about war crime prosecution and the like, you are probably talking about practicing in front of an international tribunal in a place like The Hague...those are what law students refer to as "unicorn" jobs, and I have no idea how an undergrad would go about getting such an internship. My D is a lawyer in NYC and she is working on a corporate transaction with a Canadian client. This is a cross-border transaction, and involves US and Canadian law - tax, corporate, securities, etc. International law, sort of, but only to the extent the parties are international.

    When I practiced a long time ago, my primary client was a British company...I never thought I was practicing international law except as noted above...I often had to travel to London and our time schedules were off by about 5-6 hours.
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,131 Senior Member
    edited April 5
    @hailey5799, I worked in several European law firms, both in their home offices and in their US offices, doing private law (mostly corporate law and financial services law). Working abroad was neat, but work is work, and the practice of law itself is the same: hours parked in front of a computer screen and in conference rooms. Transactional law (doing deals) is mostly just dealing with paper; there's little that's exotic about it.

    I still have international interests, but I'd rather work wherever I get paid the most (the US) and travel abroad for vacations, volunteer service projects, etc. Also, being in a law firm usually requires that you bring in enough business, and I figured that dealing with the typical challenges of work plus bringing in business, all in a country where I wasn't a native speaker of the language and didn't have roots, was just too much.
  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 Registered User Posts: 1,530 Senior Member
    To give you the litigation side, I've also done "international" law. Which is to say, I've litigated cases on behalf of foreign individuals and companies (and also against them). You mostly spend your time either fighting about personal jurisdiction or about service.

    There is also international arbitration, but unless US law is selected by the contract no one is hiring a US lawyer. You essentially do the case as usual from your US office, then get a trip to wherever the arbitration hearing is. You spend 16 hours a day working out of a hotel, see none of the sights, then fly back home after everything finishes. Clients are not paying you to take a vacation.
  • hailey5799hailey5799 Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    Thank you for all the advice, I really do appreciate it, except now I'm even more lost on what to specialize in. Do most law students know what they want to specialize in going into their L1? Or do they figure that out in law school?
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