Legal internships are a great way to widen your professional experience of law as well as developing crucial skills to become a lawyer. This page will detail all aspects of legal internships, including the opportunities available and how to apply.
>> Want to find out what it’s like completing a legal internship at a top international law firm? Read our Allen & Overy: Internship Insight here!
What is a Legal Internship?
In addition to vacation schemes, open days, mini pupillages and other forms of law work experience, you may be interested in applying for legal internships. If you have not been successful in your applications for mini pupillages or vacation schemes, completing a legal internship, usually within the in-house legal department or a large company, is another effective way to demonstrate your interest in the legal profession.
Legal internships are also a great way of widening your professional experience and skills set as well as enabling you to learn more about the different sectors of the legal system. As a result, the experiences gained during legal internships are an excellent way of positively reinforcing any future training contract or pupillage applications, thereby putting you in a strong position going forward.
How Long Do Legal Internships Last?
Legal internships tend to be one of the longer forms of law work experience, ranging in length significantly. Some may last a month or two, whereas others can range from 6 months to a year. They are a great idea for those who are taking a gap year, or did not get a Training Contract or Pupillage to follow on from the LPC/BPTC. Legal internships can therefore be a productive way of broadening your professional experience in a legal role and will also provide more of an idea of alternative legal careers paths.
What is the Difference Between Legal Internships, Mini-Pupillages and Vacation Schemes?
Mini pupillage requires you to shadow a barrister in a chambers, and vacation schemes and other types of similar work experience require you to complete a period in a law firm undertaking the responsibilities of a solicitor. These types of work experience are a good taster of what is to come if you train with a chambers or law firm.
By contrast, legal internships are an alternative way of gaining experience as a legal professional in a slightly different environment such as an in-house legal team within a large company or organisation.
If you are particularly passionate about a certain field, for example human rights or European law, legal internships abroad can really facilitate your understanding of the practice, and also help your applications in such careers in the future.
What Do Legal Internships Involve?
The exact format of any legal internship is difficult to predict and will very much depend on where you undertake it. If you carry out a legal internship in a company’s in-house legal department you may be involved in a whole number of tasks including:
- Assisting with the drafting and negotiating of legal and other documents
- Proofreading and reviewing forms of documentation
- General office administration
- Sending internal and external emails and correspondence
Completing legal internships also provide invaluable insight into how the legal department interacts with other departments (such as human resources and finances) within an organisation. On balance legal internships have the scope to provide you with a much broader type of legal and commercial work experience across a number of areas, which will look fantastic on your CV!
What Kind of Legal Internships are Available?
There are a large number of internship opportunities available in organisations that can give you an idea of how the Legal System functions in human rights law, EU law and criminal law, among others.
A selection of internships at such organisations include:
Center for International Environmental Law
International Bar Association
International Criminal Court
UN Commission on International Trade Law
How Do I Apply for Legal Internships?
For most legal internships, you can visit the organisation’s website for more details about the structure and responsibilities involved in the internship. You can also find online application forms, or an email address to which you must send your CV and covering letter, there are various methods of application.