Internships, Fellowships, Clinics: Opportunities to Gain and Hone Practical Skills
Internships at MSL
Aninternship is a temporary position at a company or law firm that helps students gain insight into a field or practice area. In essence, you are volunteering your time to the company in return for gaining valuable knowledge about that field and establishing important connections in a field of interest. The length of the internship as well as responsibilities that come along with the position varies from company to company. Internships are designed to expose the students to the dynamics of working in a specific field by exposing them to real-world applications. Not only is an internship a great experience to put on your resume, but you will also gain important professional contacts and relationships that will benefit you in the future.
At MSLAW, you may earn up to six credit hours towards your Juris Doctor working in an unpaid internship position. You must have completed at least 45 credit hours and not have been on academic probation for at least two semesters to participate in this program. All internships must be approved by Associate Dean Coyne or Assistant Dean Sullivan prior to beginning the internship. There is a package in the front office for all students interested in enrolling in an internship. Students are required to meet regularly with their supervising attorney as well as participate in a classroom component.
Fellowships are also positions at a company or law firm that help students gain insight into a field or practice area, but fellowships often will provide some form of monetary stipend to the student or attorney for a defined project or job. Most fellowships require a firm commitment to participate for a fixed period. Some fellowships are lucrative or prestigious, so many people may compete for the positions. Fellowships give the individual time to work in a specialized area, gain experience, and strengthen his or her skills. Public interest groups and the attorney general’s offices often award fellowships. Qualifications for fellowships will vary. No matter what professional experience you are interested in, your journey begins with a professional, well-written resume that fully describes your qualifications.
Law Student Clinics
MSLAW offers law student clinics where students may obtain valuable “hands-on” experience working in various legal settings in the public and private sectors. Prerequisites for participation include: 45 credits, successful completion of Evidence, not on academic probation during the prior 2 semesters, and certification under Rule 3.03.
Consult the following documents if you are interested in participating in a clinic:
Clinic Application for Spring and Fall semesters: http://mslaw.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Fall.Spring.pdf
Clinic Application for Summer: http://mslaw.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Summer.pdf
Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Internship, Clinic, or Fellowship:
- Is there a particular practice area that interests you?
- Are you more interested in a litigation clinic or internship (where you are likely to accompany attorneys to court or learn about court representation) or a transactional clinic or internship (where you are more likely to work on documents)?
- Have you honed in on any particular employer for a potential internship?
- How will the internship help you in your career?
- What time commitment will the internship require?
- Are you sufficiently confident that the internship or clinic opportunity will not disrupt your academic performance or other commitments?
- In what ways will the internship help you build your professional network?
- Is there a possibility of employment after the internship?
Tips for Gaining Practical Experience During Your Internship, Clinic or Fellowship:
- Be receptive to the training that the internship offers you, and also seek out training and professional development opportunities on your own.
- Take direction and follow directions: recognize and remember that you’re assisting real clients with very real legal issues and problems. Still, be confident about your abilities and your work.
- Use the clinic or internship as an opportunity to understand issues of professionalism and legal ethics. It can acquaint you with issues of professional responsibility – like conflicts of interest and client confidentiality – and can help you learn how licensed attorneys work through those issues.
- Use internship and fellowship opportunities to meet attorneys and build your network.
- Your work isn’t the only thing that will leave an impression on the firm or employer’s attorneys: so will your image and your personality. Be courteous and project a professional image.