The Israel Bar Association requires aspiring lawyers to have a legal internship in order to get their license to practice law. Having one is a big deal, as the internship market is competitive, and the regulations enforced by Israel’s bar association are strict and plentiful.
But… what’s going on across the ocean, especially – in the US?
In the United States, things are entirely different. There are no mandatory internships or expectations beyond going to an accredited law school, passing the moral character exam, and passing the bar exam.
On the contrary, it is uncommon for law students to lack legal internship experience. Law students strive to get an internship to gain real life experience and stand out when applying for full-time job opportunities.
College students who are studying for their undergraduate degree have opportunities to gain perspective and immerse themselves into law. There are internships that focus on conducting clerk work for firms or individual lawyers. Some tasks expected of them include shadowing attorneys, intensive research for certain projects, and taking notes during meetings.
Typically, it is difficult for students who are not yet enrolled in law school to have opportunities beyond being a receptionist or filing documents. Students in these internships gain experience and school credit rather than a salary, yet some firms believe in rewarding a stipend following the completion of a summer internship.
By law, many states (California, among others) require interns to be compensated in any way for their time and efforts.
In most states, law students have the ability to improve not only their resumes, but also increase the range of their knowledge, understanding, and experience in law. Interns enrolled in graduate school are given the chance to work as a clerk within small firms and gain even more experience. There are also opportunities to work for a state or federal court judge through an externship, which provides a shorter, yet unique learning opportunity of specialized fields of law provided by the institution they are enrolled in.
Students who display interest in a certain field of law have the chance to apply for programs or externships; attorneys or firms assign specific tasks and supervise them while giving feedback.
Usually, students with externships are granted school credit along with a summer of professional experience, although some do offer a stipend.
Another option that students have, is interning for a law professor, small firm, or companies focused on a specific field of interest.
Interns are given tasks including research of a legal issue or writing a summary of a case that would later be evaluated. Depending on what type of internship the student has, such as working at a litigation firm, they have the opportunity to research an issue.
Some lawyers allow interns to prepare exhibits for trial, whether it be creating graphics or copying documents. It is important for interns to shadow lawyers to see what professionals do throughout their day. Gaining knowledge on how to interact with the firm’s clients and read and interpret cases are all important for a successful internship.
The opportunities for students aspiring to be lawyers are abundant and require skills that may be useful in their future endeavors.
The goal of these internships is not to fulfill a requirement, but to enable future lawyers to understand the distinct specialties of law, seeing what particular aspects interest them.
The wide range of legal internships offered to students allows them to have a nuanced perspective that they cannot gain anywhere else. Similar to Israel? In a way…