In this article, Shrey Lodha of National Law University Odisha (batch of 2017-2022) discusses Why Are Internships Necessary For A Law Student? What Are The Advantages of The Internships?
Just like food, shelter and water are necessary for human survival similarly internships are necessary for a law student’s survival in the legal sphere. A well-versed student in academics doesn’t equate for a well-versed student in experience clubbed with academic knowledge. A law student gains this experience and contemporaneously inculcates work ethics by interning either under a lawyer or a law firm or a government body participating in legal sphere or a research organisation or any other legally-oriented institution.
The “eleven reasons why” internships are necessary for a law student are
1. Application of knowledge acquired in law school into reality
Law student’s academic structure goes through jargons, statutes, articles, sections, provisos and case laws. Understanding authoritative principles, analysing burning judgements and upholding set conventions are a part and parcel of a law school’s curriculum. However, keeping this knowledge refrained to your exam papers will not fetch you either a good job or a better understanding of the status quo.
Whether you aspire to enter corporate world or the world of litigation or the life of an academician, internships are equally important and pervasive in nature. Being acquainted with practical procedures of filing Public Interest Litigation to sealing an Mergers & Acquisitions are the aspects that one can develop a knack over in an internship.
2. Getting Exposure
Internships provide you exposure to multifarious people, situations and work. You have the opportunity to meet people from different states or countries (if doing an international internship) having different ideologies and perceptions towards the same thing which when observed helps you perceive things better.
In addition, interning under various heads of authority, i.e., ranging from interning at a research organization to interning under an international company will provide you an understanding of a wide and robust work culture spread through various heads.
3. Breaking the vicious circle of non-network building
The period that you’re expected to intern is in the summer and winter holidays which are approximately 40 days in duration respectively. This period is a blessing in disguise for all the law students as it provides all the opportunity of incorporating a change in their set, eventually boring, routine. Not restricting itself to incorporation of change in schedule, it also provides an opportunity to meet new people who indeed could be a boon in value addition through the period of internship. Interning helps you develop networking with people of the same age having same field of interest but demarcated by geographical reasons and with those who have authority in a particular field with respect to knowledge and experience.
Networking with co-interns
In an internship, it goes without saying, you meet different interns from various law schools, cultures, regions and backgrounds. You happen to meet a person who is of unconventional. intellect to a person who has a radical understanding. You have the probability of meeting a very influential person to meeting a person trying his best to coax the mentors. This exposure to diversity in nature, behaviour and perception helps you grow as a person.
Networking with mentors
Networking with mentors shan’t be misconstrued with cajoling them. Attempting to impress mentors by flattery and not by work will definitely attract bad impression of yours. Unnecessary showering of words buttered with loads of extra butter repel the mentors and any other work supervisor. Genuine questions, seeking reviews, meeting deadlines and asking for pieces of advice are some of the factors that one needs to adopt to build a healthy relationship with the mentor.
4. Ingraining new skills
Whether a law student or not, it is of utmost importance to constantly upgrade and imbibe new skills in one’s skill set. Thus, it becomes very important for a law student to timely do so; and the same can be achieved by doing a concentrated and serious internship. Developing a logical acumen, adapting to an articulated writing style and imbibing a well-formulated speaking skill shall be the primary goals for an upcoming lawyer during an internship in the initial years. Upon developing these, one shall then focus on specializing in the field of interest so determined.
Internships can help you inculcate the spirit of team-effort, make you more patient and help you learn time-management as there is a prevalence of a controlled and stable environment. All these things combined help you understand in which way does your coursework is preparing you for.
5. An Internship is “your experiment with the truth”
Upon completion of your first internship, you will be struck with an epiphany that hierarchical difference between law schools and other students’ GPA has little role to play in determining one’s understanding of work and application of law in the real world. Another epiphany that will strike you would be that the field of interest that you were concretely having conviction in for fetching you better career prospects would no longer be the field that might excite you upon your completion of a particular internship. Internship is a good opportunity to explore and discover various career prospects that might intrigue you upon which you might pursue that as your field of interest.
6. Acquaintance with rigorousness
Since the work culture of any institute aimed at either for profiting or delivering justice or targeting social backwardness is followed by rigorous work hours and exhaustive work-to-be-conducted, one gets acquainted with the same which in the future fetches them a better standing position in comparison to one’s peers. Increasing competition, economic volatility and constant need of delivering the best have further pushed the institutions of such work to always be on their toes and as a result, the interns are also made subject to such conditions.
7. Unlearning The Myths
In law school, one is made subject to certain laws, rules and regulations which have long been repealed and are outdated. An internship opportunities provide clarity with regard to such long repealed laws, rules and regulations and help the intern to come in contact with the status quo which the future employers expect the upcoming lawyers to be well-aware of. For example, an upcoming lawyer is expected to know the changing position of law with respect to any revised judgement given by the Supreme Court of India on that matter (the position of law as to determining the act of not standing in movie theatres for the national anthem as an offence).
8. Experience building for CV
If authoritative case laws are equally important with persuasive case laws, if sparkle of sunshine equally important with sunrise then your work experience is equally important with your score-sheet during an interview. A law student has to always remember that Grade Point Average (GPA) is only a gateway to an interview, however, work experience is a key factor of displaying one’s understanding of market functionality and application of the law into present circumstances. A wide range of internships spread judiciously over the CV of a law student shall always provide him with the necessary edge over the others.
9. A sacrosanct factor of measuring capability by the employers
A law student has to take into consideration a fact that his/her CV in the hands of an employer is the one-time chance which shall determine one’s career trajectory. Even the smallest mistake might devoid him/her of a golden opportunity. Thus, the section which the employers definitely have a look over in any candidate’s CV is the internship experience that one has gained. Keeping this section dull might repel the employer’s interest in your candidature.
Also, increased competence in scoring GPA has compelled the employers to adopt this approach in order to distinguish the thin blue line between different candidates.
10. Audition in disguise
Internships initially serve the purpose of a non-binding probationary service wherein the employers seeking to a heuristic approach of selecting few interns for a full-time position after their graduation. Thus, if an intern works seriously and diligently, there is a possibility of him/her being given an opportunity of a full-time position in a particular company.
11. Knowing yourself is beginning of all wisdom
During the period of internship, one gets to explore one’s threshold of efficiency and patience. A law student shall keep on overpowering one’s own level of burning out and brainstorming. However, being it a daunting task, it would be of immense advantage for a law student to seek clarity in terms of the goals to be achieved and the career prospects to follow in order to bring equanimity between the status quo’s efforts made and future aspirations.
How to choose an internship?
Just like choosing right words at the right time is a key to one’s success, similarly, choosing right internship at the right time is a key to a law student’s enhanced skill set. Since internships can range from participation in the affairs and objectives of a non-governmental organization to seeking tutelage under a Supreme Court judge, a law student has to devise a well-thought road map before choosing an internship depending upon factors like personal preferences/interests, objectives-to-be-achieved and future rewards.
The process of metamorphosis during which an egg transforms into a fully grown adult butterfly is the most appropriate analogy that can be drawn to illustrate the significance of choosing the right internship at the right time. Just like an adult butterfly has to go through various life stages, i.e., from the stage of an egg to that of larva to that of pupa before entering the stage of an adult butterfly similarly a law student has to choose his internships wisely in order to become the perceived lawyer.
Formulation of a road map:
Formulation of a road map with respect to internships to be applied for is the quintessential step for a law student which shall guide him/her towards developing the requisite skill set, exposure and network chain facilitating the process of becoming the perceived lawyer. However, formulation of a road map is a subjective approach which can only be determined individually considering pivotal factors as mentioned above.
However, it is to be understood that a road map for your internship is a facilitator in enabling you to explore the field of your interest and is not to be rigidly followed verbatim. Rather, the road map is subject to amendments corresponding to your changing interests.
Right internship at the right time:
The latter part of the phrase “at the right time” signifies that an internship chosen shall be the one in which one can apply the acquired knowledge in a law school into reality. For example, a law student in the first semester of his/her course may fetch no benefits by interning under a Tier-1 corporate law firm, for a law student in his first semester is not made acquainted to the subjects and dynamics of either the laws or the work ethics to be followed while working in a Tier-1 corporate law firm. On the contrary, a law student in his/her seventh semester might fetch unparalleled benefits in the same internship as compared to the law student in his/her first semester.
For more information on how to choose an internship click here.
Do’s and Don’ts in an internship:
- Make sure to have a communication with all the co-interns as well as mentors from time to time to understand the work ethics and functionalities of the place where you are interning.
- Meet the deadlines with respect to the work allotted to you.
- Be in consistent communication with your mentor for receiving constructive feedback and extending your ambit of learning.
- Attempt to be at constant availability for work. This practice shall give you an edge above the others as it shows your interest in the work and makes you more prominent in receiving work from the mentors.
- Tactics involving flattering the mentors shall be discouraged as the mentors would prefer timely quality work over wastage of time in flattery.
- Repetitive reminders with respect to work allotment and work-to-be-reviewed may make you vulnerable to your mentor’s annoyance. Reminders shall be made considering the amount of work the mentors have to undertake.
- Avoid missing deadlines as punctuality is the key to ace your internship.
Conclusion: A Caveat
Internships, for the aforementioned reasons, are of utmost significance in a law student’s life. It is not only the skill set that one gains, but the invaluable experience which one obtains over the period of an internship. This experience shall not only help a law student in growing dynamically but also further acquaints him/her to possible volatility.
In the words of Barney Stinson, if you miss an internship, you’ll be sad and won’t be able to be awesome.