What kind of internships should a law student pursue and how should one plan them accordingly? How many internships should one pursue in his career?
You should intern whenever there’s a long vacation (4+ weeks), unless of course you have a serious family/personal issue to attend to.
So, for a 3 year course, this would amount to around 5-6 internships, and for a 5 year course, a minimum of 8-10 internships (students in their 4th and 5th year, tend to do multiple internships (3-4 in a vacation).
If you are reading this late and can’t manage the number of internships suggested here, it’s ok! Do make the best of whatever time you have.
In the initial years (till the 5th-6th semester) of law school, you should do 2 types of internships.
One, the very basic ones, like an NGO internship , a trial court internship and a law firm internship.
An NGO internship will sensitivise you to what the poorest of the poor go through, how law can make a difference in their lives, teach you what empathy means etc. Also, for a 1st year student it makes sense to intern with an NGO as most lawyers/law firms won’t give him/her any good work.
A trial court internship will give you a ‘true’ picture of legal practice in India and teach you critical skills important for being a good lawyer. Make sure you have a hang of CPC and CrPC before you intern with a trial court lawyer.
You might not have read it as a part of your curriculum but reading the Bare Act in a month long dedicated study will augur well for you.
A law firm internship will be your first tryst with corporate law and corporate environment and help you decide if that’s you cup of tea.
Secondly, till around the 5th-6th semester, you should explore various careers, work settings and areas of law through your internships. Do an internship around whatever suits you.
It could be an arbitration law internship, a journalism internship, something to do with business etc. Explore your interests. This can mean doing short internships of 3-4 weeks so that you get a taste of all that piques your interest.
After this, you should press on the paddle and focus. If you want to make it into the corporate law firms, do law firm internships. If you want to work with NGOs and Think Tanks, work in such organisations and so on.
Note: A big law firm internship puts you through the grinder and is rarely not useful. So, if you are confused, give interning at a law firm a chance.
Secondly, it’s ok to be confused even at this stage.
I know a lot of people of planned their internships to the T, landed up a big law firm job only to quit it at the end of the first year and join an NGO.
A lot of people did very few internships and landed a good job they like. Many a times, you can only connect the dot backwards (which means you can’t plan but only go with your gut).
In the 4th and 5th year of law school, you should go for long duration internships (6-8 weeks) which gives the employer and you a chance to get to know each other.
Many employers complain that a 4 week internship is too short to make for a meaningful exercise. A long internship also increases your chance of getting a PPO.
The point being, if you put in sincere efforts throughout the 5 years, doing the work rather than just thinking about it, moving out of your homes into the uncomfortable, alien cities and work spaces, you’ll have done yourself a world of good.