In this article I will show you how to apply for law internship in any firm. This article will take you through all the prerequisites and tips you need to know before applying for internship in big, small or medium law firms. Trust me; if you painstakingly read this work, it will boost your chances of getting accepted the next time you apply for internship in that your dream law firm.
The importance of having an internship experience as a law student or graduate cannot be over emphasized. Aside the fact that it is a way to improve learning and networking, doing internship can help to boost your chances of gaining employment when you finally graduate from law school. Yes! This is not arguable as most law firms do not employ lawyers who never had an internship during their school days.
Corroborating this, a friend of mine whose father is a lawyer told me that; in his father’s firm, they don’t employ lawyers without any internship experience, even if that lawyer graduated with a first class from school. So you see, having an internship experience is like a prerequisite for every law student/graduate. For this reason, i have decided to teach my readers how to apply for internship in any law firm.
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Note that this article is not country specific. It doesn’t matter the country you are reading from. I actually did thorough research before writing this article. Believe it or not, this is the best article on how to apply for law internship online. So without wasting your time, let’s quickly see what law internship is all about.
What is a law internship?
According to Wikipedia, a law internship is a period of work experience offered by an law firm/Chambers to law students or graduate for a limited period of time usually 2-3 months. A law internship experience can be paid or free. While some firms collect money before accepting students for internship, some offer this opportunity for free. Accordingly, some law firms pay their interns while some don’t. Below is a video on all the things I will disclose in this article:
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Why you need an internship experience
Below are some of the reasons why you should apply for internship in a law firm:
Law internship gives you a glimpse of the practical side of the legal profession:
Sometimes students forget that the legal profession is a very practical profession. Law is more practical than theoretical. You may not understand this until you are offered an opportunity to intern in a good law firm. It will surprise you to know that the practice side of law is quite different from what you were taught in the classroom. This is why experience is very key to succeed in the profession.
Internships help to consolidate your CV:
Evidently, internship is one of the best ways to boost your CV. Before I applied for my first internship, I didn’t have any to add to my CV to substantial it. In fact, I thought my CV was below the required standard. But after I finished my second internship and collected two internship certificates from some of the reputable law firms in Nigeria, i was able to show my CV in the public.
You will agree with me that experience is one of the factors that is considered when employers in the legal market give jobs to lawyers. The only way you can beat other lawyers in your country is by gathering as many experiences as you can while you are in school.
Internship give you experience and increases your chances of getting employed:
At the beginning of this article, i explained that some law firms don’t employ lawyers without any internship experience. This is obviously because, law is a profession that is practical. Employers assume that students with much internship experience will be able to handle legal matters better than and those without any experience. This is undoubtedly true.
It will shock you to know that some law firms don’t employ lawyers without internship experience even if they graduated with the best grades from school. Believe it or not, internship is a prerequisite for every lawyer.
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Internship fosters learning:
The most important reason why you should apply for internship now is because you will learn a lot after the experience. I have done internship in some law firms so I understand exactly what I am saying. When I did my first internship in my second year at the university, I learned even things I was not taught in my school.
To be frank, if you really what to learn wide, you have too apply for internship now. The most striking thing about learning in a law firm is that; you can ask lawyers in the firm questions and get cogent answers to them.
Now that you know what a law internship is, and the importance of applying for internship in a law firm before searching for job, i will show you how you can apply for internship any law firm below.
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How to apply for law firm internship
Below are the steps to apply for internship in any law firm as a student/graduate:
Decide which law firm you want to work for:
First and foremost, you need to decide which law firm you want to work for . There are hundreds of law firm and chambers you can apply for internship in your country. In Nigeria for instance, we have about 50 law firms in every state. However, It should be noted that out of the hundreds of law firms, some are very prestigious than others.
There are three types of law firm viz; top tier law firms, medium law firms and small law firms. Top tier law firms usually pay their interns but they are very competitive. They are older law firms and they are well known. As it is called, medium law firms are not too big or too small. They are also very prestigious. Lastly, small law firms are firms that just joined the legal profession newly. They usually have 2-10 employees and it is easier to get accepted if you apply for internship in this kind of firm.
Following the above, it is apparent that 99% law students out there will want to apply for internship in firms that are reputable, popular and will most likely pay their interns. However, in my view, this is not a good option if you have not done internship before. The reason is because, most top law firms don’t have time to teach their interns what they need to know.
Considering the fact that they are popular and well respected, top tire law firms may not want to leave little tasks for interns to handle. They deem that interns are not experienced and are likely to make mistakes that will lead them to failure. Thus, most law students that did their internship in top law firms don’t really learn anything.
I personally recommend that you apply for internship in medium law firms or small law firms in the place where you live. These law firms will make sure that you learn everything you need to learn before leaving the firm.
More so, it will surprise you to know that most top tire law firms don’t accept interns that have not done internship before. So, before you apply for internship in top law firms, it is pivotal to gain the experience in a small law firm first.
Research about the firm:
Next is to find out everything about the firm. For instance, you need to know where the firm is located, whether the firm has a specific time for accepting internship application, the requirements of the law firm and if possible, know the administrative heads of the firm.
Okay! I know it might be difficult to find these information online. I personally recommend that you ask students who have done internship in the firm before. Alternatively, you can visit the law firm’s website since almost all the firms now have a website.
Knowing the above will go a long way to consolidate your chances of getting accepted. For instance, some law firms in Nigeria only accept students from a particular tribe. So you see, it is very important to know the firm before you apply, so that you will not be wasting your time.
Note that the information you gather here will guide you when writing your application and preparing for the interview.
In my case, I almost lost my first internship opportunity because I addressed my cover letter to the Human Resource Manager of the firm without knowing that the firm I applied didn’t have a Human Resource Manager. The only reason why they later accepted me was because I dressed and behaved like a professional.
When I was called for an interview, the Principal Partner of the of the firm told me that next time I want to apply for internship, I should make ensure that my letter is addressed to the right office.
So you see, it is very important to research about the firm you want to work under. Some law firms accept only the first class or second students; some have specific duration for accepting internship applications. You can not know all these requirements except you research about them.
Prepare your resume and cover letter:
This is the crux of this article. Actually, i am not going to teach you the step by step process for constructing a resume and cover letter here. That will be a topic for another day. However, I will disclose some of the essential contents of a good resume and cover letter.
First, it is pertinent to know that the firm is not expecting you to have too many experiences already. Of course, they know you are a student and that you probably have not worked anywhere before. So, you don’t need to panic that you do not have things to fill up a page or two of your resume.
However, this does not mean that you should not be professional. Remember, you are not apply to work as a sales person. Law is a prestigious profession so you have to write like someone from the profession.
For example: It will surprise you to know that some law firms consider the name you used in savings you resume and cover letter. So, after writing your resume, the name you used in saving your CV goes a long way to also consolidate your chances of getting accepted. Coupled with that, the format you use in preparing your resume and cv is also important. Below is a screenshot of the standard format for a law resume.
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Submit your application to the firm:
Now you need to submit your application to the law firm. If you are applying for internship in a firm that has offices all over the country, it is wise to go to the particular office you want to intern and submit your application directly to them.
The reason is because, If you send your application to the email in the firm’s website, it is useless since the mail will go to the administrators at the headquarters of the firm. Thus, the administrators at the branch where you want to intern may not see it.
You are only allowed to send your application via email if the firm has only one branch or if you are sure that your application is going to the right office. Where you are not sure, simply buy a brown file. Put your resume, cover letter and other relevant documents in it, then take it to the firm yourself.
I personally don’t submit internship applications online. In my opinion, it is more professional if you submit the hard copy of your resume and cover letter to the firm yourself.
Follow up the application:
Oh yeah! You have to follow up the application. Don’t just relax and wait for the firm to reply back to you. There is no problem if you send them a mail again, informing them that you sent an internship application sometime and that you haven’t heard from them yet.
Most law firms don’t check their mails everyday. Even when they check, they may not reply you because they have more serious things to attend to. What I usually do is to call the secretary of the firm. After that, you will be told why your application was not replied and if possible, it will be replied.
Alternatively, you can go to the office of the person in charge of accepting internship application and explain to the person everything.
By doing this, the firm will see that you are really serious about the internship and most times you will be given the opportunity as long as you meet their requirements.
Prepare for an interview:
Lastly, you have to prepare for an interview. Yes! this is the last and most important part of this article. You have to encourage yourself and build your confidence by preparing for it. Dress like a professional, talk like a professional and walk like a professional. Make the firm know that you are ready to work with them.
In my case, I wore my suit and black shoes. Immediately I enter the interview room, the first thing they said to me was that, they would love it if I continue to dress good when my application is accepted. Boom!! I was so happy for myself. In fact, that gave me confidence to answer the questions they asked me. Even though I made the mistake of addressing my letter to the wrong office, they overlooked it because I dressed very well.
More so, you have to prepare to answer simple questions on some of the law courses you have done in your school. Before asking you any question, the office in charge of interviewing interns usually ask about the level of the student first. So don’t panic, nobody is going to ask you questions on something you have not done. Most times, the questions are not very difficult.
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Okay! That is all for now on how to apply for internship in any law firm. With this article, you have everything you need to get accepted next time you apply for law internship in any firm. That notwithstanding, if you have any question to ask or contribution to make concerning this topic, please share it using the comment section below this post.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.