Career Development

What Does a Legal Intern Do?

Learn more about what it takes to succeed as a legal intern, the skills you'll need to become one, and what you can expect on the job.

Legal interns are entry-level employees in the legal field. They work closely with lawyers and other professionals to gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting. Legal interns may be asked to perform a wide range of tasks, from researching case law or drafting documents to answering phones and scheduling appointments.

Legal Intern Job Duties

A legal intern typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Drafting legal documents such as motions, briefs, complaints, or pleadings based on the attorney’s instructions
  • Researching applicable laws and legal precedents in order to provide legal support to attorneys working on cases
  • Drafting contracts, wills, trusts, deeds, corporate charters, and other legal documents
  • Preparing and filing legal documents with courts or other agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Interviewing clients, witnesses, and other individuals involved in a case in order to gather information about the facts of the case
  • Reviewing and summarizing case files to determine what additional action is needed by the attorney
  • Drafting plea agreements for criminal cases
  • Conducting legal research on issues relevant to cases being tried in court
  • Preparing briefs, motions, petitions, and other legal documents for the court

Legal Intern Salary & Outlook

Legal intern salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of law they are working in. They may also receive benefits, such as health insurance, 401k contributions, and paid vacation days.

  • Median Annual Salary: $38,000 ($18.27/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $97,000 ($46.63/hour)

The employment of legal interns is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be driven by the increasing complexity of legal issues and the need for more legal services, particularly in the fields of intellectual property and business law. In addition, the aging population is expected to increase demand for legal services as people seek counsel for estate planning and other types of litigation.

Legal Intern Job Requirements

To become a legal intern, one may need to satisfy the following requirements:

Education: Most legal internships require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, some law firms may hire candidates with an associate’s degree in law, paralegal studies or another related field.

Many law firms prefer to hire candidates with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. This four-year program includes courses in civil procedure, criminal law, contracts, torts, constitutional law and other legal topics.

Training & Experience: Legal interns receive training through their work experience. They can gain practical experience by working in a law office, government agency, nonprofit organization or other setting. They can learn how to draft legal documents, research legal issues, interview clients and more.

Certifications & Licenses: Though legal intern certifications are not necessary, they can offer additional proof to potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge needed for this position.

Legal Intern Skills

Legal interns need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others in a clear and understandable way. As a legal intern, you may be communicating with clients, other lawyers and judges. It’s important to be able to explain complex legal concepts in a way that others can understand. You may also need to communicate with others in your office via email or phone.

Organization: Organization is another skill that can help you succeed as an intern. You may be responsible for managing multiple tasks at once, so it’s important to be able to prioritize your work and keep track of deadlines and other important information.

Research: Legal interns should be able to conduct research to find the information their supervisors need. This may include searching through case files, reviewing statutes and regulations or finding precedents for cases. You should be able to find the information you need quickly and accurately.

Time management: Time management is another skill that can help you as an intern. You may have multiple tasks to complete in a day, so it’s important to prioritize your work and manage your time wisely. This can help you complete your work on time and help you work more efficiently.

Writing: Legal interns may be required to write memos, letters, briefs or other documents. Strong writing skills can help you complete assignments and communicate with colleagues. Consider taking a course in legal writing or English composition to improve your writing skills.

Legal Intern Work Environment

The work environment for a legal intern can vary depending on the type of law firm or organization where they are placed. Generally, legal interns can expect to work in an office setting where they will be assisting attorneys and other legal staff with their work. This may include conducting legal research, preparing legal documents, and assisting with client interviews. Legal interns may also be required to attend court proceedings and depositions. The hours can be long, and the work can be demanding, but it provides a unique opportunity to gain experience in the legal field.

Legal Intern Trends

Here are three trends influencing how legal interns work. Legal interns will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Legal Tech

The legal industry is changing rapidly as more and more businesses turn to technology for help with their legal needs. This trend is leading to an increased demand for legal tech professionals, who can help businesses automate and streamline their legal work.

Legal interns can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with legal tech products and services. They can also develop skills in areas such as contract management and dispute resolution, which are essential for helping businesses manage their legal risks.

More Firms Will Use Remote Lawyers

As the economy continues to improve, more and more firms will begin to use remote lawyers. This is because it allows them to save money on office space and other overhead costs.

Legal interns can take advantage of this trend by developing skills that make them attractive to firms looking to hire remote lawyers. This includes skills such as project management, communication, and time management. In addition, legal interns should be sure to network with as many people as possible in order to find the best opportunities.

A Greater Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important in the legal profession over the past few years. This is due to a growing awareness that a diverse workforce leads to better decision-making and a more inclusive culture.

As a legal intern, you can play a key role in promoting diversity and inclusion within your firm. By doing so, you can help create a more welcoming environment for all employees and ensure that everyone feels valued and respected.

How to Become a Legal Intern

A legal intern can expect to work hard and learn a lot. They will be exposed to many different areas of law, which will give them a better understanding of the field as a whole. They will also have the opportunity to work with experienced attorneys who can provide guidance and mentorship.

It is important for interns to take advantage of all that their internship has to offer. They should ask questions when they don’t understand something, participate in discussions, and volunteer for extra assignments if they are interested in learning more. They should also network with other professionals in the legal field and attend events where they can meet people and learn more about the industry.


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