Practice Management — 27 May 2017
4 Keys To Properly Training A Legal Intern

Summer is rapidly approaching.  Along with the sunlight, days at the beach, and time off vacationing, summer brings along droves of legal interns across the country.  They are fresh out of another year of college or law school, and ready to learn in an office environment.  Whether it is because of over-hiring interns or simply not needing one for the essential operations of the firm, legal interns often feel as if they didn’t truly learn anything from their experience.  Even though it might be annoying to take time out of your day to train an intern, look at it as an investment: if you have a talented intern who enjoys their time with you, you can easily hire them without having to go through the usual hiring process of finding and interviewing applicants.  Here are some ways to make the most of your legal intern this summer.

Have Them Sit In On Meetings

While law school is great for teaching students about the finer points of the American legal system, it doesn’t teach much about the day to day life of a law firm.  Knowing criminal law is not enough if you want to be a successful criminal lawyer: you need to be able to talk to clients, communicate with your team, and understand the process behind the laws.  Letting your intern sit in on meetings with clients or other lawyers will show them what goes into operating a successful practice.  They will undoubtedly be emboldened by this experience if you ever need to place them in a client-facing role in the future.

Let Them Do Preliminary Research

There is so much research that needs to be done on any given day in a law firm.  Assigning interns to do some of the research not only gets some of that responsibility off of your lawyers and paralegals, but it allows interns to learn more about your practice area.  Teaching them what data or precedents you typically need in your field of law and letting them research it, will let interns know if this field of law truly interests them.  This is, of course, a tedious task, but someone has to do it.  Since they are the people in the office who have done extensive research most recently (law school papers are not exactly short) they will be effective and they will learn more about your practice.

Bring Them To The Courtroom

Many people who want to break into the field of law have a grandiose view of the American courtroom that has been popularized by TV shows.  Bringing them to a courtroom will not only show them how a courtroom operates in real life, it will make their expectations much more realistic.  There is a give and take in the courtroom that is hard to quantify without seeing it in real life, so your interns will be well-prepared once they enter the workforce as an attorney.  There is another small upside here: waiting in courtrooms can be a very boring time, so having someone to talk to is never a bad thing.

Let Them Work With As Many People As Possible

If your intention is to hire an intern who will one day work for you as an attorney, it can definitely help to give them a thorough look at your office.  Let them spend days with all of your lawyers, your paralegals, receptionists, and so on.  They will get a full view of the firm that they simply would not be able to get if they were sitting in an office listening to podcasts and sorting paperwork all day.  You will also get more peoples’ opinions on the intern when it comes to hiring them: if they are a good fit, you will know.


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