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Common Mistakes Made by Legal Interns

Tue, Feb 7, 2012

Internship Information

Deciding to become a lawyer is no easy choice to make, but you won’t really know if you’re cut out for the profession until you intern. It’s a scary proposition, and it should be, especially if you make it into a well known, prestigious firm. But once you’re in, you must be wary: making mistakes, especially as an intern, can create severe roadblocks further down the line as you pursue your career. Here are the most common mistakes a legal intern can make:

Bad decision making. You might be feeling desperate, but that doesn’t mean you should instantly commit to the first law firm that will take you. Apply to as many firms as you can so you have a choice among the ones that select you. But do your homework: each law firm is going to have different rules and a different intern profile, so no two firms will be the same. Research each firm before you commit so you can be sure to intern at the type of firm that coincides with your philosophy, area of interest, specialization, etc.

Slacking. Congratulations, you made it! Now the hard part starts. You didn’t think the hard part was getting accepted, did you? Unfortunately, many interns think exactly that, which is why their quality of work doesn’t prove to be of the caliber the firm expects. Don’t let this happen to you: an inefficient intern is a sorry intern, as those who lazed around during their internships discovered when they received a bad letter of recommendation … or no letter at all.

Check your ego at the door. This can be tough, especially for anyone who did well in law school. Internships, whether they are paid or unpaid, are about humbling yourself, realizing that you aren’t the only fish in the sea and that there are other professionals who, through their years of experience, outdistance you in craft. That isn’t to say that you won’t get any better … you’re just not there yet.

Schmoozing. Good grades and hard work are necessities for a good lawyer, of course, but so is the ability to socialize. Get to know the other lawyers in the firm where you spend your internship. Remain professional, but get out there and make friends, or at least make contacts. Once you have finished your internship, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Be sure to stay in touch after your internship is complete, especially with your bosses. Not only will they be able to supply you with a sterling letter of recommendation, but they may be able to introduce you to other professionals who can help you get a job.

Burn out. Don’t be lazy or ineffectual, but don’t work too hard either. Discover that delicate balance between goofing off and living at the firm. No one expects you to burn the midnight oil all night, every night. Establish boundaries and keep them. Your hard work during daylight hours will make a wonderful impression … and may land you the perfect job in the future.

Breana Davis is a contributing writer for Orlando DUI Law FirmOrlando Attorney , a team of dedicated and experienced DUI attorneys based in Orlando, Florida.

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