Step 5: Seek Off-Campus Law-Related Opportunities and Internships

One of the most valuable experiences you can have that will inform you about the legal profession is obtaining a law-related internship. Actually working with attorneys in a court, a government agency, or a law firm will enable you to experience the day-to-day life of an attorney. While many students are drawn to law because of debating, the legal profession is about more than the stereotyped idea of waging arguments in court.

According to The Task Force on Law Schools and the Legal Profession, the legal professionals’ day-to-day reality involves a combination of the following: reading, researching, and writing along with negotiation and oral advocacy skills. An internship in which some or all of the five core attributes of the legal profession are utilized would allow a student to identify if he or she is interested in the type of law practiced or in the legal profession as a whole.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Experiential Education Office connects students with part-time and full-time internship opportunities in the Delaware Valley, in Washington, DC, through The Washington Center, and in positions around the country. For more information about internship opportunities, contact the Director for Experiential Education, Michael J. Pennington.

In addition to arranging an internship for credit, you can also arrange your own non-credit internship or summer job with a law firm, agency, or law-related organization to gain legal experience. For example, during the summer, you could combine a part-time internship working for a member of Congress with a part-time job or you could work full-time at an agency; during the school year, you could work at an internship or job at an agency, law firm, or organization in Philadelphia or the Main Line area a few hours once- or twice-a-week.

Experiencing the culture of the agency, law firm, or organization, gaining an appreciation for the type of work, and talking to the legal professionals about their careers should be your priorities. Experience in law or law-related professions will enable you to further refine your ideas about legal work and your preferences in law, and will therefore enable you to make better, more well-informed career choices.

An internship in which some or all of the five core attributes of the legal profession are utilized would allow a student to identify if he or she is interested in the type of law practiced or in the legal profession as a whole.

Taking the Initial Step

law book

Many students identify with a career in law on their list of top five careers they’re considering. The American Bar Association (ABA) advises students to engage in a serious inquiry about their career goals before choosing to apply to and attend law school. The ABA contends: “Embarking on a legal education requires a great deal of thought as well as a sizable investment of time, money, and energy.”

Talk to Professionals

To dispel common myths and stereotypes about the legal profession, conduct informational interviews. You must choose this profession based on real knowledge and not on commonly-held stereotypes and misperceptions of the profession. Use the information you garnered in Step 2 to narrow your selection of professionals you would like to interview.

Ask lawyers and professionals questions about their experiences in college, law school, and in the legal profession. Visit the Career Services Office for information on legal careers as well as career counseling.