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4 Things You Need To Know About Summer Legal Internships

Published July 23, 2018

Law School is exciting but what’s even more exciting is practicing law!  How do you begin to help people with your legal skills even as a law student?  What does the Career Services Office do to help you?  

What is a legal internship?

Internships during your first summer of law school begin to shape your legal resume and professional identity.  This is important to think about as you decide what direction you want to take your career after law school. Having a variety of experiences in private, government, corporate, and not-for-profit work may help you decide which option is best for you. If you are certain about the type of career you want, you can begin to shape your resume specifically to prepare for your career path.

All first year students can take advantage of the many internship opportunities available nationwide and locally. Some students work in private firms conducting legal research and writing on private client matters in all practice areas.  Others work for District Attorney’s offices, prosecutorial agencies and other governmental agencies again doing legal research and writing and possibly even appearing in court under a student practice order.  UB School of Law has distinguished alumni serving as federal and state judges at all levels and they often hire UB Law students as interns every year, who may even draft opinions and orders for recommendation to the judges.   Many students work in the non-profit legal sector doing direct client service for indigent persons and advocating for them in courts under practice orders.   And others work in corporations reviewing contracts, intellectual property issues, and compliance matters.  

Examples of legal internship placements for UB School of Law students:

  • The Exoneration Initiative in New York, NY
  • Deutsche Bank in New York, NY
  • Universal Studios in Florida
  • The Office of the United States Bankruptcy Trustee in Central New York
  • The United States Attorney’s Office (which always hires several UB 1Ls) in Buffalo and other cities
  • Journey’s End Refugee Services in Buffalo addressing cutting edge immigration issues in a border city
  • New Era Cap Co. in Buffalo, supporting professional sports teams around the world

Do you get paid for legal internships?

You may have heard that your first year internship will not be paid.   While that is often the case with government and non-profit organizations, competitive fellowships are available and the law school works hard to fund this important legal work.  This year over 40 students received fellowships for unpaid legal work during the summer and UB School of Law had the most students enrolled in the AmeriCorps JD Program.  We are very proud of our service tradition here. 

How does the Career Services Office help?

How does this happen?  As a first year law student, your top priority is to become acclimated to law school and your studies.  Therefore no employers may solicit applications from you for work your first summer until December 1 of your first year.   In order to be prepared for that, the CSO will begin helping you with individual career counseling in mid-October of your first year.  We use a powerful self-assessment tool to coach you through the process of exploring different legal organizations, practice areas and styles.  This Right Profile ® assessment has been used by corporations and sports teams for years.  We will also address the nitty gritty of revising your resume to fit legal employer expectations and teaching you how to draft a useful and concise cover letter.   Through assessments and other counseling we hope to guide you to a successful and satisfied career.

What can I be doing now to prepare for a legal internship?

You don’t need to do much before law school to prepare for your upcoming legal internships, but improving your writing and research skills with additional classes and complex papers is always helpful.   Network with any attorneys you know or meet along the way as well, you never know where it will lead!

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Guest blogger Lisa A. Bauer became the Assistant Director of Career Services in 2016. In this position she counsels students on professional development and career placement.  Bauer was previously the Director of Externships at the School of Law.  She is an Executive Board member of the YWCA-WNY Inc. and chair of the Facilities and Transitional Housing Committee.   Before coming to UB, Bauer was in private practice for more than a decade, focusing on highly complex insurance coverage litigation in both New York City (with the Proskauer firm) and Buffalo.

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