The 10 Top Legal Internships for Pre-Law Students
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Pre-Law is a bittersweet program for undergraduate students. As most law schools admit, there is virtually no need to study law before completing an undergraduate degree. In fact, some schools will actively push students away from pursuing a legal education before law school classes begin.
Thus, pre-law students have almost unlimited freedom as far as major choice is concerned. A pre-law student can be an engineering major, or an English major, he or she will not be punished by a law school admissions team for a dearth of legal knowledge. The bright side of this liberty is relatively obvious; pre-law students can do almost anything they want (provided they maintain an adequate academic record and a minimal criminal record). The downside of the situation is the one limit it does impose; pre-law students can’t study law.
Of course, there is some leeway. There are several undergraduate courses with legal relevance (see philosophy of law, legal writing, numerous political science classes, etc.), but while their friends are all preparing for careers and learning job-pertinent skills, pre-law students are studying something secondary, or, sometimes, entirely irrelevant.
As a result, legal internships are one of the few opportunities pre-law students have to really get an impression of the career they want. Thus, these internships are competitive, selective, and rather difficult to find. For any who are interested in pursuing law, here are the top ten legal internships available right now.
10. Office of Inspector General (Glassdoor Ranking: 3.0/5.0)
This internship (open only to juniors and seniors) provides an opportunity to learn about governmental process and how the government and the legal system are intertwined. The intern would be expected to draft memoranda, and he or she would be given a chance to attend congressional hearings and Supreme Court arguments. My opinion: The opportunity to spend time in the Supreme Court is what drew my attention here. Listening to SC arguments on Oyez.org is one thing, actually sitting in would be quite another.
9. Wedbush Securities – Los Angeles CA (Indeed.com ranking: 4/5)
This is a research based position, involving creation, filing, and organization of documents. It is a competitive position and requires a GPA of at least 3.5. Furthermore, some degree of computer and software knowledge is necessary. My Opinion: this is not an internship for someone who is unprepared for a wide range of jobs. It will likely require manual labor (it mentions box-moving), as well as computer skills. For those who possess the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and know their way around technology, it is a good looking internship.
8. Bechtel – Various US locations (Indeed.com ranking: 4/5)
The Bechtel legal intern is required to aid attorneys in investigation and research. In addition to preparing and summarizing documents, the intern will help prepare non-disclosure agreements, as well as other investigation documents. My Opinion: This internship draws its value from its opportunity for interns work closely with attorneys. As Bechtel is an engineering company, it may be more interesting to engineering major-pre law students.
7) Discovery Communications – Maryland (Indeed.com ranking: 4/5)
This internship is primarily concerned with intellectual property law. It allows the intern exposure to corporate contracts and programming agreements, and a glimpse into the legal side of the media industry. My opinion: Though this internship struggles to set itself apart from other legal internships in any remarkable fashion, it is paid, and the fact that it is in the media industry seems promising.
6) Data Mining Virtual Position Internship – Online (Glassdoor Ranking: 3.5/5)
This is an online internship, ideal for those undergraduate students with a shortage of available transportation. The work is unpaid, but offers class credit. The intern would be required to locate the rightful owners of certain assets, essentially mining data and summarizing it into useful information. My opinion: if you can get past the boredom of data analysis, this is a great way to take on a legal position while maintaining a busy schedule.
This is an immigration firm looking for an intern for research and writing. The intern would be supervised by a paralegal or attorney and would take on intensive casework. This is a paid position and requires a minimum of 35 hours a week. My Opinion: This internship seems designed for someone with some technical or legal writing experience (the application asks for a writing sample), but will undoubtedly be a learning opportunity as the intern will be closely supervised. Because it is immigration law, the material will be specific, however the chance to work in a fast-paced law office and develop legal writing ability appears worthwhile. The time commitment is something to keep in mind, however.
4) CICC - (Glassdoor Ranking: 3.7/5.0)
Though this internship is unpaid, it is a great opportunity for those interested in human rights law and international law. The internship requires a three month commitment, but asks for more. It involves writing and communication, and it focuses the intern on the promotion and ratification of human-rights related acts. My opinion: I took a human rights law course last year, and it is certainly an interesting topic. This internship represents one of the nobler aspects of legal work.
3) CRCC Asia – Multiple locations
Interning at CRCC Asia provides an opportunity to work internationally (though there are domestic locations as well, including California). Many of the firm’s previous interns are now working for top international firms largely due to their participation in this program. Though the program deals extensively with international parties, there are no required languages other than fluent English. My opinion: This looks like a good internship for the student who is yet to study abroad and plans on doing so. One reviewer says, “It was an incredibly worthwhile decision, and within days of having intensive lessons tailored towards your learning progress you’ll begin to notice the dramatic improvements immediately.”
2) The Public Defender Service - DC (Glassdoor Ranking: 4.7/5)
This program assigns an intern to an attorney as an investigator. It requires a great deal of time (about 40 hours a week, with extended training sessions at the beginning), and irregular hours. Furthermore, there is a likelihood that interns will be asked to testify in court. The job pays about minimum wage, but opens doors as far as fellowships and extra stipends are concerned. My opinion: If you have a lot of time and can handle a heavy workload, this is a great internship to take before law school. It includes the possibility of LSAT discounts and class credit, which render it more rewarding than many similar programs.
This position requires the intern to perform investigation, including the interviewing of witnesses, the drafting of summary memoranda, and the preparation of trial defenses. The internship involves close contact with lawyers and law students who are willing to discuss the law school and lawyer lifestyle. It is a learning experience and a great pre-law school resume builder. My opinion: This is a competitive internship, but is undoubtedly worth it for pre-law students. Much of the work involves pro bono legal aid for indigent clients, which, in addition to being a resume builder, is a great way to serve the community and balance an inherent injustice within the legal system. While the internship itself is yet to be widely reviewed, it boasts admission benefits for interns to Georgetown University Law School, which is currently a top twenty law school in the US.
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on flickr.com
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