That internships are really important in making you employment-worthy is an indisputable proposition. This is primarily because law firms or even litigators recognize that the law as is taught in law schools falls short, and significantly at that, from what is required of lawyers as they pursue a career in the law. The sentiment is an ongoing one and even students have bought into the idea, for instance, that doing a diploma or an online course will fill that lacuna. All of this notwithstanding, there exists no substitute to actual work experience at a law firm or under a practicing advocate. That said, this piece endeavors to put down an account of how internships as an exercise require more than just being really good at the law and what interns should be doing in addition to sharpening their substantive knowledge of the law.
It is always a good idea to know exactly what the practice areas of the internship are. This task is significantly aided by the wealth of ‘Internship Experiences’ available online. Doing this ensures that you won’t, on a primary level, be surprised by the work that is thrown at you, but more importantly it ensures that you won’t be spending too much time figuring the basics of work that is assigned to you. Talking to people who have interned there earlier is also a good idea. For instance, at an internship I was advised to keep taking work from a particular associate, because she took an active interest in the work given by interns and would personally ensure HR called the intern back for another stint at the firm of she was really impressed by the work. The idea being, it’s always best to do your background both substantively on the law as well as the organization and the people involved.
During the Internship
Talk to people. Please do. It is often wrongly presumed that lawyers are an uptight lot that are only looking to employ nerds who don’t have a life. They are humans you know, and more often than not, they LOVE talking and getting to know people. This ensures that people know you and your chances of getting work will only increase consequently, but more importantly you develop a better working relationship with the people involved. When assigned work, take time out and see if you completely understand the work assigned to you. If you don’t, ask questions, seek clarifications. Trust me, asking questions does not make you look dumb, giving an erroneous work product on the basis of your incomplete and presumptuous understanding of the problem is a deal breaker. Lastly, whatever be the work assigned to you, be enthusiastic about it. Even due diligence is an opportunity to contribute, be it in making life easier for the person you’re working for or in some cases actually finding stuff that can aid in the exercise. Perceptions are critical, and being enthusiastic only improves people’s perception of you and your work.
Follow-up. Don’t piss them off, while you’re at it. Before you leave your internship, say your goodbyes with whoever you’ve worked for and ask for feedback on the work you’ve done. Connecting on Linkedin is also a good idea. The idea, to put it simply, is to understand whether you have a future with the organization and to better evaluate your options.
I will concede that the above is easier said than done, but these things matter and weigh significantly in an organizations decision to call you back or give you a job. Also, there is no substitute to delivering brilliant work product. All of the above is to supplement that and simply being a charmer is not going to land you a job.
About The Author:-
Zacarias Kanjirath Joseph is a final year student of ILS, Pune. A Mooter, Munner, Debater and Blogger among other things, Zacarias recently was offered and accepted a PPO from Khaitan & Company.