law firm internship
Image source - https://bit.ly/3dDP7PJ

This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

It is very hard to get a law firm internship these days for a lot of you. Even a virtual internship!

However, getting an internship is just step 1. How do you make an impact during the internship? How do you convert the first internship into a second internship where the employer calls you back for another stint, maybe even a paid one, popularly known as a call back internship? How do you convert these internships into a PPO? 

A PPO is a pre-placement offer. You are getting a PPO if the employer makes an offer to you while you are still studying in college to join them, based on your performance during the internship.

Of course, this requires you to really stand out during your internship through extraordinary performance.

All sorts of law firms give PPOs, especially the smaller ones that do not visit law school campuses. Even larger firms increasingly hire through PPOs, some like JSA even almost exclusively, because they can zero in on better quality talent this way.

Here are the mistakes you want to avoid if you want to land a PPO. In the end, I will also tell you how we have helped LawSikho students to frequently land these highly desired PPOs.

Please note that even those who get a job, often get fired within months if they fail to deliver on these aspects. So it is relevant even from a young graduate’s perspective.

1#

Sidelined because of poor English

There is no way you are going to do well in a law firm if you do not speak and write in English clearly, accurately, and precisely. If you struggle with English, as I did once in law school, you are not in the running. Even if you manage to bag an internship at a good law firm, 99% chances that they will sideline you if they think that your English is not good. The simple reason for this is that they do not want to spend their time correcting your English. All their client work happens in English, and they will never hire someone whose English is not good enough. Even during interview rounds and while selecting CVs, they are careful to weed out any application that appears to be from someone whose English is not adequate. You may feel this is not fair, as some students do, but if you want to work at a law firm, you have no other option than improving your English at any cost.

If you are someone who needs help with improving your spoken or written English skills or need help with increasing accuracy, please join this course: https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-in-english-communication-for-lawyers—oratory-writing-listening-and-accuracy

This is the first English communication course created for only lawyers and law students. May be useful for other professionals like CA and CS as well. However, the entire content is created from scratch to support your legal career, and we teach every lesson in a legal context so you develop a legal profession-specific vocabulary, language, speaking, negotiation, persuasion, and writing skills. 

We are taking enrollment in this course only till the end of this month.

2#

Sidelined due to lack of research and writing skills

The first work you will get in most internships will be probably some research work. You may be asked to find relevant case laws, write case briefs, look up some circulars or regulations, or find authoritative sources to back a certain point of view. 

You will be considered smarter and better if you can find case laws or authoritative sources where others are not able to. I remember when I was in the third year of law school, I was interning at AZB Bangalore. During my internship of 6 weeks, I made a name for myself in the office for finding case laws where nobody else, including associates, could find something. Some associates gave me the nickname Mr. Google, and many different people will come to me in the day to ask me to find case laws as my reputation grew.

You definitely want to aim for that level of proficiency. And it is not at all hard to achieve if you learn a few techniques.

You may also be given some other work, to do which you need to complete some research first. Always turn to textbooks first when you have to learn the basic concepts of any new area. Text the most simple textbook rather than big fat authoritative ones when you are reading a new subject for the first time.

And finally, the output from all your research is produced to your superiors in the form of some written content. It may be a note or a memo for that matter.

Remember, in law firms, presentation is sometimes as important as getting the content right. It may not make sense to you, but the aesthetics of a document is often what your superiors will first judge you by, even before giving your content a chance.

You also need to learn how to present content in a way that is easy to grasp, and the crux jumps out of your writing rather than being buried in the text. Your seniors will be impatient, and you can’t always expect them to give your writing a patient reading. Being brief but effective in your writing will do a world of good to your career.

And this is why you should make an effort to systematically learn about legal research and writing.

In LawSikho we have an one month introductory course on legal research and writing that can get you started. 

3# 

Sidelined for lack of basic diligence 

A lawyer’s job is tedious. A good lawyer does not engage in a battle of wits in the courtroom or boardroom all the time ala Suits, but they are pouring over documents, statutes, evidence, contracts, statements, and what not, going through everything with a comb. 

Once I told the legendary banking lawyer late Mr. Bhojani, who was a banking partner at AMSS back then, that I don’t want to do banking laws. He asked me why. I said it is because I think banking law must be very paperwork heavy and will be boring.

He laughed and said if you think that way you should not be a lawyer at all. Do you think M&A does not have paperwork? 

I realized my mistake immediately.

Young law students create this glamourous image of sexy lawyers in their head, as I did, and fail to realize that most of the amazing lawyering is not being smart with your words or having tremendous knowledge of case laws. It is about being diligent, not letting things slip, preparing for every possible eventuality, and finding out things that other lawyers miss out on because they are not as diligent as you!

The more diligent and hardworking lawyer almost always has a massive advantage. 

However, most law students are not at all used to this level of rigor or diligence. They are used to being treated with kid gloves in college. If they submit a terribly formatted project full of fake footnotes and spelling mistakes, they still pass. So this is what they expect at the workplace. They expect other people will correct them and show them what to do. 

Those lawyers you are interning with are quite busy. It is OK to correct one or two inadvertent errors. But if you have a general lack of diligence and rigor in your work, after one or two warnings they will simply begin to ignore you and you will stop getting any meaningful work.

This is why in every premium LawSikho course, we provide a massive level of in-person feedback. When you draft a contract, you get line-by-line feedback on the clauses you have drafted. You are expected to write articles every month, and you will get very detailed in-person feedback from specific writing assignment coaches who have worked at top law firms on how you can improve your writing and where you are making mistakes.

We teach young lawyers the required level of diligence and rigor in their work because we know this is what sets them apart when they go for internships and appear in interviews. 

4# 

Sidelined from lack of commitment and unconditional availability 

Working in a law firm is not easy. It is often a round-the-clock job that requires massive commitment and setting aside all other priorities. If you do not like that, maybe you should not work at a law firm. It is not how I like workplaces to be, honestly, but it is better to be clear what it is like in reality to work at a law firm rather than having any misconceptions about the same.

Most law firms demand a massive amount of commitment, to the extent that you may end up working for 12-16 hours a day, and pull frequent all-nighters at the office. You may be expected to set aside personal priorities, and may not be able to take too many holidays, even if you are legally entitled to the same given the work pressure. 

As an intern, of course, this level of commitment will not be expected from you, but if the team needs you at times to work late or gives you more work, you will be expected to do it without protests. If you do not, or is unable to do so, you are likely to get quickly sidelined as someone not suitable to work in a law firm. Whether you think this is fair or unfair, this is how most law firms function.

Law firms are selling the proposition to clients that they are available to serve their clients 24×7, which makes sense given that a lot of legal work can be of an urgent nature. But this means that the associates in these law firms are available unconditionally to respond to clients as well. Many partners are writing and responding to emails in the wee hours, and this is considered very natural and the epitome of good client service. If you want to go against the grain here, you need to start your own law firm, which many of my friends have done.

5#

Sidelined due to lack of knowledge and conceptual clarity

As I said earlier, associates are very busy, and contrary to the expectations of most law students, they have no time to spare to teach you stuff. They will involve you in the work if they find your contribution useful. Otherwise, despite ticking all other boxes, you will still get sidelined.

The most basic level of knowledge you need to make the cut is clear conceptual knowledge of usual statutes like Contract Law, Company Law, Transfer of Property Act, Competition Act, Arbitration Act etc. depending on what team or practice area you are dealing with.

However, we find that this alone is often not enough given the level of competition for an associate position today at top law firms. How do we train LawSikho students if they are interested in a top law firm job?

Our philosophy is simple – teach them to do the work that associates are expected to do. Depending on which team they are aiming at, M&A, capital markets, competition law, banking and finance, disputes or IP, the exact training will vary. The training for those who want to join in-house legal teams as lawyers is markedly different.

The work that associates do in law firms, such as drafting contracts, due diligence before deals, deal compliances, negotiation, drafting of various kinds of petitions, and applications – are taught depending on the area of interest for the student.  

What is the end result?

When they go for an internship, they come across as useful and intelligent interns. Familiarity with the work that they are given brings forth a lot of competence compared to other law students who are interning along with them. 

For an associate, such interns are irresistible because these interns reduce their burden of work, help them to wrap up work faster and meet tight deadlines. As a result, they are happy to recommend such interns highly to their bosses. As a result, these candidates get called for a 2nd or 3rd internship, and when their performance is found satisfactory, they easily make the cut for a PPO.

To be honest, every law student who is serious about getting a job in a law firm can do this. All you have to do is find someone who will teach you these skills, or just join a course from LawSikho and benefit from the extensive ecosystem we have built to teach you these skills.

Do not get sidelined – become a sought after intern

If you experienced getting sidelined at a previous internship, you know how it feels. You see other interns getting the opportunities you wanted! You realize that while you got a coveted internship, it is not getting converted to a job.

All it takes is some thorough preparation. It is hard to prepare all on your own, but with a team by your side, it becomes very easy. If you are a Lawsikho student, we just want you to give us 1 hour a day for a year, and do the weekly assignments we will give you – and rest assured, you will be a start intern every time you step into any firm for an internship.

Not only that, our rockstar placement team will even help you to find the internships of your dreams.

If you are up for this, simply reply to this mail with your phone number and we are available to discuss how to take your career to the next level.

Here are the courses in which enrollment is open right now:

  1. If you are interested in corporate governance, you should check out the diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations;
  2. If you want to get that in-house counsel job, go check out the diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels;
  3. If Industrial and Labour Laws interest you, go take a look at that diploma course;
  4. The Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws will be booming in the coming times, if you’re inclined towards that career, check out that diploma course;
  5. If you’re sure that your niche lies in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE & VC transactions), go check out that course;
  6. The Cyber Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts is in dire need of good young talent if that is what ticks for you, go check out that course; and
  7. Every young lawyer should check out our diploma course in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution

Check out our other executive courses which can be helpful: 

  1. We have a certificate course in Advance Corporate Taxation
  2. You can also check out this course for Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  3. If Trademark, Licensing; Prosecution and Litigation interest you, we have a course for that;
  4. LawSikho also teaches Competition Law, Practice and Enforcement in a course;
  5. Technology Contracts will be essential to every business in the future, you can check out that certificate course; and
  6. Knowledge about Banking & Finance Practice: Contracts, Disputes & Recovery is essential for every BigLaw layer, you can check that out too.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.

Did you find this blog post helpful? Subscribe so that you never miss another post! Just complete this form…

LEAVE A REPLY