Internship challenges faced in law field by law school students

Internship in a law firm after completing law school brings lots of challenges in front of students. This article explains the problems that law students have to face in learning the practical side of the legal field as an intern.


Law internship is an eye-opener to the majority of law students. It is the period when they can get a sneak peek of how their professional life is going to be. It may amuse many young enthusiastic law interns. On the other hand, it may scare many others. Law school is a piece of cake. Finding a law firm to intern is the new hurdle that comes in the life of law school students. Every law student should know useful tips for landing an internship. Once they secure an internship for themselves under a reputable professional employer or firm, many of them think that they have one the war. Soon, many of them start witnessing the new challenges they are about to face in their internship period. Law school is all about gaining theoretical knowledge. The real challenges are faced by law school students when they are in their internship period. This article explains a list of challenges faced during the internship by the law students.

Law internship is different from law school

Studying in law school and interning for a law firm are two different experiences. Attending lectures in law school and submitting assignments cannot be compared with a real-life study on cases assigned in law firms. Thus, when law students secure an internship in a law firm or under a professional employer, they have no idea of what they are about to do there. They may have a gross knowledge of all the tasks they will be assigned, and the type of work they will be allotted, but still, they usually are confused with everything that is going around. In a law firm, especially in a big one where lots of professionals are working, everybody is running around. They are busy with their legal cases settling for their respective clients. Law interns at least, in the initial days, have no idea of what their seniors are doing, and what they can do to assist their co-workers. They might have that theoretical knowledge required for the law field, but they might not know to put that in the practical use. Neither they know how to do drafting, nor do they know how to collect evidence.

Lack of practical skills required for the legal field

Law students at some point will be allotted the work such as drafting or something like negotiating deals or collecting evidence or dealing with a client. Since they have not done it earlier, they may spend most of their time in dilemma, and remain anxious as they do not know where to begin with the work. Law firms with too much work pressure will never spoon-feed their interns. They let students work as interns for them so that some of the work can be allotted to them which will ultimately decrease some workload. Law students who can get a good mentor are the luckiest ones. However, the rest of them have to somehow finish the allotted work with a little guidance of a supervisor. Everything will not be told. When a supervisor asks interns to do research, they will not be told where they would find answers. They might have to look everywhere from textbooks to the internet. Law interns do not know anything about legal research. They are only familiar with conducting academic research. Academic research is different from legal research which is mainly precise as it covers everything and is yet to the point. It is always right without any doubts. How can someone from law school conduct such research? Only after being mentored for it on at least a couple of cases or more, an intern can fare well in such complicated tasks. Many will find it difficult to approach their mentors and let them know the difficulties they are facing with their allotted work. Thus, law interns struggle a lot in their initial days.

The biggest challenge is idleness at law firms

Law internship is not like attending law school. It is of small duration, and thus, there is pressure on every law intern to expose themselves to the professional side of the legal field. What if the law firms they are interning do not have plenty of work? What if due to the presence of very few clients, only small and not so important work is assigned to the interns at the law firm? In such cases, a law intern by the end of internship may not be able to learn all the practical skills necessary to seek a job in the professional world. Who would appoint a not so well skilled lawyer? It is the truth that many law interns face in the real world. Those law interns who were unable to get an internship at top legal firms have to satisfy themselves by interning at some smaller not so popular law firms. There they are given nothing but less important work which nobody wants to do. Every day they have to do the same work, and the worst part is that it will not be sharpening their skills as it will be mainly boring and manual. Conducting research, dealing with clients, negotiating for companies are some tasks assigned by reputable law firms to their interns as they promise them that they will let them have a look at all the areas of law. However, every law firm may not give a taste of such important works to their interns. Mainly interns of not so busy law firms might be asked to proofread, manage papers or documents or go for bookkeeping.

Lack of job-related seriousness

If interns know how to mingle well with co-workers and senior staff and build a network, they can use it to their advantage. Law internship is one of the best ways to meet new people who are in the same profession. From time to time, there will be numerous events, meetings and lunches. Every day, professional lawyers visit the firms for some law-related work. Thus, being at the firm and by attending every event, an intern can make sure that the professional network is expanding which is necessary to seek a job. However, those interns who are shy and lack interaction skills may be at a great loss. Those whose communication skills are not that good always find building network one of the biggest challenges. It is not always about shyness or interaction skills, sometimes it also happens that they do not know the importance of building a professional network. Since they just finished their law schools and secured their positions in law firms, they are not much thinking about the next step in their life which is to secure a job as a lawyer in the law field. They do not know how difficult it is to step out in the real world and build their career as a professional. Thus, building a professional network is also one of the top challenges faced by law interns.

Misconception related to law internship

Usually, law interns feel that since the internship is a continuation of Law College, it is still, a learning phase for them. In law schools, they gained theoretical knowledge, and in an internship, they will learn a practical approach. When that myth is broken, it seems challenging for them. Yes, an internship is a learning phase, but it is learning through experiencing. Learning finishes with college. Professional lawyers are ready to help interns, but usually, they do not see a student in them, they are looking forward to meeting performers who have joined their firm to help and share their workload. Law interns have to usually take control of everything and learn by trials and errors. In the process, they will learn and experience everything. A practical lesson will be demonstrated by supervisors on how to carry out the assigned task, but there will be no spoon-feeding of any kind. Usually, lawyers at the firm are busy with their legal work and thus, they do not have enough time to train their interns at everything. Also, they usually expect a performer who has joined their organization to make a contribution and demonstrate the skills. Thus, law interns who enter their internship period well prepared by seeking guidance from their seniors have an advantage over unprepared law interns.

Some other problems faced by law interns

  • Since law internship is of short duration, interns have to speed themselves up for learning as much as possible. The more they get to learn, the better will be their chances of securing a good job. It is because the more they learn, the more skills they can add to their resume which can impress their future employers.

  • They do not know how to behave like professionals. Since they are the young students from law schools, they are still, in that zone where they take everything easy and casual. This attitude of theirs can cost them their career sometimes.

  • They do not know what the right approach is. Some of them underestimate themselves whereas, others overestimate their importance and skills. Consequently, some get avoided by the staff, others end up offending them.

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