Law students have it rough. For all the legal profession’s reputation as a highly coveted, lucrative field, more lawyers than ever are finding themselves jobless and broke in the months following graduation. Some law graduates have even begun suing their schools for offering misleading statistics for post-graduation success. Nowadays, there are twice as many lawyers as the market can support, leaving many hopefuls unemployed or in a job outside of their chosen field. The harsh competition soon-to-be-lawyers face necessitates absurdly high qualifications; students need to have the best grades, the most activities, and the most impressive internships. The last is particularly important – after all, who would hire someone with great grades and no experience when ten candidates with both are readily available?
Law students need to land internships to survive. Below, I’ve listed a few tips for students on the hunt to use in their application process.
Choose Your Direction
The “law” umbrella encompasses a wide breadth of fields. Do you want to work in corporate law, injury law, civil cases, or within judicial departments? While you can always pivot towards a new direction later in your career, having a solid foundation of experience in your preferred sub-field will help you when you begin searching for a full-time position after college. Choose wisely, but don’t be too picky! Any internship is better than none.
Research Potential Firms
Once you know which direction you would prefer to take, research potential employers. Firms want to know that you’ve done your due diligence, so make sure to review their website and read any information on past cases that you can find online. This will allow you to get a better sense of the firm’s mission and typical caseload, and will further help you understand what you would work on as an intern.
Tailor Your Application
The easiest way to ensure that a company tosses your application is to write a generic cover letter. It may be tempting to use one cover letter and resume for the dozen or so applications you need to write, but you never should. It’s painfully obvious when a potential intern does so, and it communicates to the employer that the intern doesn’t care enough to tailor their work. Read the job listing carefully, taking note of details and responsibilities. What are they looking for? Work your qualifications for meeting their specific needs in your cover letter. This document should also include notes on what you like about the employer, your past experience, and the value you can add to the firm.
Practice Your Answers
“Winging it” is not a strategy. Make a list of potential interview questions and answer them fully; practice speaking the answers aloud in order to accustom yourself to the script. By practicing, you will equip yourself with answers to fall back on if you stumble during an interview.
Make sure to send an email within 24 hours to each interviewer. In the message, thank them for your time and express your continued interest in the role. In a field with so much competition, going the extra mile can make the difference between achieving the position or remaining unemployed.
It’s never too early to start looking for a position! Check out the internships listed in your area here.