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Can Law Students Intern at Solo or Small Firms?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 03, 2017 1:00 PM

With summer coming up quickly, many law students are looking for internships.

But in an economy that has rocked legal education and employment, many aspiring attorneys do not know what are the chances of getting an internship. Others do not even know where to look.

The good news is, opportunities are still out there. The bad news is, the pickings get slim as the season wears on. The inside scoop is, solo and small firms are an untapped source.

Look Here

Under pressure to maintain rankings, law schools are working hard to find jobs for law students. Job placement is one of the main criteria for law school ranking, and it is one of the main attractions for prospective law students.

So start your summer intern search at the law school placement office. Job counselors typically work with law firms, non-profits, the government, and private companies that are competing for legal workers.

Many of their offers are for attorneys, clerks, or paralegals, but internships are also listed. BigLaw, mid-size, and small firms need interns, and summer jobs are on the rise.

Not There

However, some law schools do not emphasize internships with small firms or solo attorneys. Carolyn Elefant, a well-known solo practitioner with a national practice, says law school placement offices have not served her well.

Elefant says solo and small firms can offer good, practical experience to law students. She said she even pays for interns.

"Yet career offices stupidly prefer to place students in free positions with government offices or non-profits rather than paid positions at small firms because the career counselors believe that students will acquire more substantive work experience, not to mention, a chance to be hired full-time," she wrote for Above the Law.

The silver lining here is that small firm and solo internships are out there. You just have to look beyond the placement office to find them.

It's Still a Job

"Finding a job is a job," they say. And so it is with internships, even the non-paid ones.

Outside the job placement office, there is a world of opportunities. Look for internships online, off-line and in line. Seriously, you may have to get in line at the local unemployment office or knock on a few doors to find an internship.

Try government offices, non-profits, the courts, and and even law schools. What professor can turn down a summer research assistant?

And then there are those solos and small firms, which employ more than 60 percent of the attorneys in America. Look for a few near you, and send them a resume.

Better make that by email; summer is almost here.

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