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How to Network With Firms to Find the Best Law Internship

Mon, Apr 16, 2012

Internship Information

You’ve put in the time at a highly-regarded law program, and now you’re beginning to think about how to set yourself up for the best job out of school. Your grades and involvement at college will certainly be taken into consideration, as well your presentation at interviews. But most of the prestigious firms will want to see candidates that have some real world experience, and the best way to get that experience is through an internship. Yet not all internships are created equal. The better the firm you intern with, the better it will reflect on your abilities during your job hunt. But how do you get an internship with one of the better law firms? Your ability to network may end up making the difference. Here are a few tips for how you can network your way into securing the best possible law internship.

The law community can be fairly inclusive. But regardless of the industry, people like to work with their friends. And a recommendation from a trusted source is the next best thing. So to better your chances of landing a great law internship, you’re going to want to meet with as many legal professionals as possible. Keep it simple by starting with your current network. Check with friends and acquaintances, and come up with a list of anyone who has law connections. From there, you’ll be able to branch out to their friends and work associates. You may be surprised how many industry connections you’ll find simply by reaching out to your pre-existing social network.

Outside of friends, family and acquaintances, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to legal professionals you’ve come across. Start with professors that you have a strong working relationship with. Figure out how they may be connected with working attorneys in your particular field of interest. Once you’ve spoken with all of your possibilities, create a list of all of the active lawyers and firms your network can link you to. Call around and try to set up some interviews. You can tell them when you reach out that you’re not looking for a job or an internship, but that your mutual friend had suggested them as someone who might be willing to offer advice and guidance. People really do like to give back, especially if they’re being asked to contribute as an acknowledged expert in their field. No one gets to a position of esteem without the help of many people. And given the opportunity, most of them will return the favor.

When you meet with these professionals, keep your requests simple. Remember, you want guidance and further connections, not the promise of a job. That may come, if you continue to develop a relationship. But people will get uncomfortable if they’re asked for too much, or if they feel you’re trying to take advantage. Have your resume ready, and approach them with confidence. You are marketing yourself, and you want to reward the person who went out on a limb and recommended you by making sure you do not waste this person’s time.

Since your goal is to land an internship at a prestigious firm, ask for help on the assets that would get you that position. Ask these professionals if they would review and give notes on your cover letter, your resume and any work samples you will be providing. Finally, if it seems there is an opening, ask for a reference. You may not get it, but it doesn’t hurt to put it out there. Remember, there could be hundreds of other people jockeying for an internship at the Morgan Law Firm, or whichever prestigious organization you have targeted. The more ways you can stack the deck in your favor, the better.

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