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Advent of Virtual Internships for Law Students

COVID 19 may have given you an extended version of a stay-cation at home, but the task of building your CV still remains. Among several other things, an internship can be a critical juncture in your law school trajectory, when you have to move out of the classroom into the workplace, and it will require you to put the skills, both legal research and analysis, and otherwise, that you have acquired, to use in the real world.

Virtual internships are an admittedly new development, but there are benefits that being able to intern online offers over a traditional office-based internship; like extra flexibility, independence, profitability on commuting costs, and the advantage to participate in multiple internships if you can, along with a remote working experience that will be the future of tomorrow. Here are four tips to help you ace your virtual internship, the ‘stay-at home opportunity to gain valuable employability skills’-

Conduct thorough research – Learn all that you can about the organization that you will be working for, to better equip you for any tasks you are given (for example, the kind of legal drafting format that they follow) and also to avoid feeling alienated during the entire process.

Emphasize communication and networking –Opportunities to network is the most valuable advantage of an internship, but virtually, may require a bit more effort on your part. Introduce yourself, and reach out to your supervisors, and to any other important contacts in your department. If possible, schedule several video chats/ emails throughout your internship to check in and to ensure that you are on track. Ask them promptly what kind of legal research and analysis they need.

Manage your time effectively –Even in the absence of a supervisor’s physical presence to keep you on task, it is still important to complete your work in a timely manner. Do not let any distractions tempt you; treat your time at work seriously, and do not ever miss any deadline or leave a task unfinished. That is because the lessons you’ll learn during internships may be more useful than the ones you learn in law lectures.

Create a professional environment–If you want, youcan maybe dress professionally at home, and you could also set up an area of your home that will serve as your office. That is, try to feel like you are at work—which is even more critical if you will have video chats with other people at work during your legal training.

And, for organizations or individuals looking forward to hiring students from home, here’s a quick checklist for you –

  • Set clear expectations across the organisation about the regulations, and with your interns.
  • Prepare interns at least 4-8 weeks before they start, with a primer on the needs.
  • Think about the software tools they’ll need to be successful, and let them know; find out about their legalpublications.
  • Offer a work from home stipend to have the students work in the best of their capacities.
  • Create the same culture you have in the office digitally. 
  • Consider how you’ll train interns, and train your managers, too.
  • Show them your legal document drafting services and how they can learn to offer them.

Ultimately, doing excellently at a virtual internship is not so different from performing wellin a traditional internship. It is important to be following the 3Ps, and be Prepared, Professional, and Proactive – and thou shalt succeed in your quest to learn.

-Yashika Sachdev