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Law Internships For High School Students

I'm a high school student interested in going into the law field, and I was wondering about how I could find law internships. I live in New Jersey, and even though I've looked, it's been very hard to find any places near me offering internships for teens/high school students. What places or organizations could I look or reach out to?
#internship #law-practice #law #lawyer #law-practice #law-internship

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Kim’s Answer

Amanda,

Internships at law offices go to students in law school. You may want to look at companies that provide litigation support services, or discovery services. Google those terms for your city. These are companies that help gather the documents for attorneys, and also produce videos such as to demonstrate what " a day in the life" of a person injured in a traffic accident is like. You could also look at title companies (places that put together all the documents for home purchases), auto insurance claims, etc. A lot of legal work is tedious, but perfection in everything you do is critical. These jobs would give you a glimpse of some of that work. Good luck to you!
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Desiree’s Answer

Hi Amanda,
As Kim mentioned, Law Firms generally reserve "legal" intern (aka summer associate) positions for law students or even recent law school grads. This is driven in part by the requirements of U.S. employment law and the need to meet market expectations for internships that provide meaningful clinical and other hands-on training -- gone are the days of interns just getting coffee and making photocopies. If law firms are going to make effort to support "meaningful training", then the interns themselves have to be close to having qualifications to practice law.

However, you can seek more general intern positions at companies in/around the law -- e.g., the business depts of law firms, in title companies, in discovery companies, CLE (Continuing Legal Education) companies, local bar associations (city, county, state bar associations or even specialty subject matter bar associations, like family law or immigration law) or even non-profits that support legal causes. These can afford you some window into the law and the businesses around it.

Lastly, rather than an "internship", you might seek either volunteer opportunities (especially helpful for non-profits/legal charities) or paid, part-time/temporary, entry-level admin support position in legal or law-related companies or government. For instance, a small local law office may not have an intern program, but might have (or be able to create) an opportunities for an office worker to help with admin tasks. If you re-frame your expectations slightly from assisting in drafting legal memos or court motions (which is what legal interns do, after 4 years of college and 1-2 years of law school!) to getting a behind the scene look at law practice -- supporting document gathering for real estate transfers at a title company, training lawyers through CLEs, volunteering to help plan and register attendance for a community outreach event for a non-profit legal charity, etc. -- then you might have a more realistic chance of getting the exposure you want. Moreover, you can make meaningful contributions commensurate with your current education and capabilities.

No matter what you seek, you need to make connections. So start networking! Ask the trusted adults in your life (your parents, family, teachers, coaches) to introduce you to lawyers they know. If you are old enough to meet the terms and conditions, consider tools like LinkedIn. It takes some bravery to reach out and ask for help, but so many internships, jobs, and other opportunities are found through connections. Be open to learning from the connections (what was their career path into the law? how did they get their first break??) but also respectfully ask for help. Don't think you've made it clear what you are looking for until you've expressed it directly. You might start by saying something like, "I've been told that I won't qualify for a legal internship until I'm in law school, but I'm ready to start learning the field now, while I am a High School student. Are there opportunities in your office for volunteers or admin support for which I might be qualified now?" And trust me, it will get easier each time you ask!

Good luck!!!

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

rather than a "legal internship", consider volunteer opportunities or paid, part-time/temporary, entry-level admin jobs
Expand your search beyond law firms to those professions that support and/or train lawyers - title companies, discovery companies, Continuing Legal Education companies, local bar associations, non-profits that support legal causes, etc.
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Abi’s Answer

Agreeing with all the responses and just dropping in to add: research legal externships for high school students.
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Dorothy Brown’s Answer

Hello, I was a counselor years ago for a program called DukeTip. It's a program that allows students to take classes on an university campus with with leaders in the profession as instructors. You should check out their site.

https://tip.duke.edu/
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Teryll’s Answer

I saw this post about the skills you need to be a lawyer and things you can be doing in high school to hone these skills. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/early-preparations-law-school-2164525

Another idea is that many folks used speech and debate as a way to practice learning about topics and arguing your point of view. This could be a good place to develop these skills.
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Kevin’s Answer

Hi -

I agree with the suggestion that you may want to try networking with trusted adults. For the most part, many of the legal jobs that you will want, either now or if you decide to enter law school, will not be posted on online job posting boards like Indeed or Monster or Google. Many of the best paying jobs are never posted online. Applicants are discovered through networking at events or from recommendations by attorneys.

There are definitely still jobs posted online but not all of them. Another great way to find a legal job will be through college career placement offices. If there is a particular college you are interested, you could consider contacting the career placement office for a tour. I recommend getting to know the person in charge of career placement - whether during undergraduate studies or if you do attend law school. If there are any law schools near you, you could consider reaching out to them. They might be willing to give you a tour and they might know someone looking for a volunteer, intern, or who might have a paying job at a law firm.

If there are any legal aid, or other pro bono legal services near you, those may also offer good opportunities for you to get experience. Often, places like those have need of people to help them and they will usually provide training as needed so you can learn a new skill.
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