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How to Get a Law Internship - The Complete Guide

January 9, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 1/9/24

So, you want to learn all about how to get an internship at a law firm. You’ve come to the right place. 

Getting an internship at a law firm, legal department, or a related organization can help you get your foot in the door by exposing you to valuable practical experience and helping you build essential skills. 

But where should you begin, and how can you make a mark in this competitive field? This guide is here to answer those questions and provide you with a clear path to securing that sought-after law internship.

Understanding Law Interns and Their Roles

Before we break down how to secure a law internship, it’s important to clarify what it entails. Law interns are usually students or recent graduates who work in legal settings to gain real-world experience and apply their legal knowledge.

They take on various tasks like legal research, preparing documents, conducting client interviews, and more. As an intern, your priorities are to learn, support the legal team, and help the organization achieve its objectives. Keep in mind that this can look different for every internship. 

For example, internships at law firms for high school students may offer a different experience compared to those intended for college or law school students. Internships for high school students typically focus on fundamental legal concepts, basic office tasks, and a broad overview of the legal profession. 

While the responsibilities may be less complex compared to internships at law firms for college students or law school students, they offer a chance to explore the legal world in a supportive and educational environment.

How to Find Law Internship Opportunities

Keep reading to learn the practical steps and tips for finding those valuable law internship opportunities.

female law intern meeting coworkers

Identifying Your Interests

To start your journey toward landing a law internship, the first step is to identify the specific areas of law that interest you the most. Law covers a wide range of topics, such as criminal law, corporate law, family law, and environmental law. Take some time to think about which of these areas or legal issues you find most engaging.

You might have a particular subject that you enjoyed studying or a specific legal matter that has always caught your attention. Once you have some ideas, dig deeper into these areas. Read, watch, or learn more about them to gain a better understanding.

It's also a good idea to talk to professors, mentors, or professionals in the legal field to get their input. Consider your internship goals and how they fit into your long-term career plans. This process will help you narrow down your interests and focus your internship search on what truly excites you.

Establishing Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

Setting clear goals is essential. Determine whether you're looking for a short-term summer internship, a semester-long commitment, or a more extended arrangement. Long-term goals may involve securing a future job offer, while short-term goals could be about gaining specific skills or experiences.

Assessing Your Qualifications

To begin your journey toward securing a law internship, it's essential to conduct an honest self-assessment of your qualifications. This process involves evaluating your academic achievements, legal coursework, extracurricular activities, and any additional skills or experiences that set you apart. 

Consider your grades, particularly in courses related to your desired internship field.  If, for example, you aim to secure an environmental law internship, highlight strong performance in environmental law or related classes. 

Reflect on your legal coursework and emphasize the courses that align with your internship interests. Your involvement in law-related extracurricular activities, such as mock trial teams or legal aid clinics, can be compelling evidence of your commitment. 

Lastly, identify any additional skills or experiences, like fluency in a second language or involvement in relevant research projects, that make you a strong candidate. This self-assessment equips you to present your qualifications effectively when applying for law internships that align with your career aspirations.

Researching Internship Opportunities

Now that you have a better understanding of your interests and qualifications, it's time to explore available internship opportunities.

Explore Small Companies & Firms

Don't limit yourself to large law firms or corporate legal departments. Smaller firms, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies can provide equally enriching experiences. They often offer more hands-on opportunities for interns to make a significant impact.

Consulting Your School Career Center

Your school's career center is a valuable resource. They can help you identify internship opportunities, review your resume and cover letter, and provide guidance on your application strategy.

Compiling Your Options

Create a list of prospective internships that match your goals and interests. Keep track of application deadlines, requirements, and contact information for each opportunity.

How to Get into an Undergraduate Law Internship Program

In this section, we'll discuss how you can land internships at law firms for undergraduates.

Crafting Your Applications

Crafting a compelling application is crucial. Your application typically includes a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and possibly letters of recommendation. Tailor each application to the specific internship and organization to demonstrate your genuine interest.

Timely Submission of Applications

Submit your applications well before the deadlines. Late submissions may be disregarded, and you want to make a positive impression with your punctuality.

Interview Preparation

If your application impresses, you may be invited for an interview. Here's how to prepare:

Dressing Appropriately

Dress professionally for your interview. Opt for business attire, and make sure your appearance is neat and well-groomed.

Anticipating Common Interview Questions

Prepare for common interview questions like, "Tell me about yourself," "Why do you want to intern with us?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" Practice your responses to these questions to feel confident during the interview.

Asking Thoughtful Questions

Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. This demonstrates your genuine interest and engagement. Questions could include, "What types of projects do interns typically work on here?" or "What opportunities are there for professional development?"

female student interviewing with man

Post-Application Follow-Up

After the interview, send a thank-you email expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and reaffirming your interest in the position. This is also a chance to address any points you may have missed during the interview.

Tips for Getting an Undergraduate Law Internship

Keep reading for valuable tips and advice to help you secure an undergraduate law internship.

Building Networks and Connections

Networking is a critical aspect of securing a law internship. Attend legal events, seminars, and workshops to meet professionals in the field. Leverage platforms like LinkedIn to connect with alumni or lawyers who can offer insights and potentially refer you for internships.

Familiarizing Yourself with Application Requirements

Different internships may have specific application requirements, such as writing samples or transcripts. Familiarize yourself with these requirements in advance to avoid last-minute hurdles.

Seeking Input on Your Application

Ask professors, mentors, or career advisors to review your application materials. Constructive feedback can help you refine your documents and make a stronger impression.

Tailoring Your Application

Tailor your resume and cover letter to match the specific internship and organization. Highlight experiences and skills that directly relate to the role.

Demonstrating Persistence

The road to securing a law internship may involve rejection or initial setbacks. Persistence is key. Keep applying, improving your skills, and seeking feedback to enhance your chances.


Understanding how to get an internship at a law firm is a multi-step process. So, it’s natural to have questions. Let’s explore some answers to commonly asked questions. 

1. What Internships Are Best for Law School?

Judicial clerkships rank among the top choices for law school internships. During these internships, students have the opportunity to work with state and federal court judges, providing them with valuable insights into the operations of trial and appellate courts.

2. Do Interns Get Paid?

Legal internships can be paid or unpaid, with the average hourly pay for legal interns being about $19.31 in the United States. How much you get paid depends on factors like where you work and your qualifications. It's essential to check the compensation details of specific internships and consider the experience you'll gain as part of the overall value.

3. What Do Summer Law Students Do?

Summer law internships typically involve a range of tasks, including legal research, drafting documents, attending court proceedings, and assisting attorneys with casework. The specific duties can vary based on the type of legal practice and the needs of the organization.

4. Why Do Law Firms Hire Interns?

Law firms hire interns for several reasons, including assessing their potential as future associates, providing support to current attorneys, and fostering a talent pipeline. Interns also gain valuable experience and may contribute to the firm's workload.

female lawyer handing binder to male intern

Concluding Thoughts

Now you know how to get an internship at a law firm. Securing one is a critical milestone on your path to a legal career. It offers you the chance to learn, network, and gain practical insights into the legal profession. 

While the process may be competitive, your dedication, preparation, and persistence can set you apart from the competition. Remember that every step you take brings you closer to your goal of landing that coveted law internship. Good luck!

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