-Dr. Sukhvinder Singh Dari, Director, Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur
“Is the internship right for me?” is a question all law students struggle to answer as they don’t know what kind of internship can fetch them their desired job. Law students need to be aware of the types of internships that can lead them to the right career path.
This dilemma can be overcome with the IOA (Interest, Opportunity, Ability) matrix. This approach can help law students evaluate their career prospects and make sure they are on the right path. This is a basic guide to help students implement the IOA matrix for choosing the right career path.
Do you want to opt for private practice and advise clients on their legal issues? Or do you want to work in a law firm and represent clients in courtroom proceedings? Or would you rather provide legal counselling to a company/organisation?
Answering these questions is crucial for a law student. Paralegals are entry-level assistants to lawyers or attorneys who learn more about the domain while on the job. Lawyers and attorneys consult with clients, although while lawyers only consult about legal issues, attorneys are more likely to go a step ahead and represent them in court procedures. Counsels are lawyers who are hired by a company or an organisation to act on legal matters on their behalf.
Pursuing an internship that interests you is important because interest leads to learning and gaining experience. Future employers value this experience and confidence you gain more than the reputation of the company/firm you intern in. So, if researching and preparing memoranda, attending trial hearings, filing, and copying case files, going for client meetings, etc. sound interesting to you, you should definitely consider an internship at a law firm.
Now that you know your interests, you can move on to the next step in the matrix — understanding the scope of the field you intern in. There are several law specialisations. Civil law is a field gaining popularity currently. Besides this, there is criminal law, constitutional law, human rights law, family law, international business law, etc. Practicing in these fields can help you make about $70,000 to $160,000 annually, depending on the field and the experience. Apart from lawyers, paralegals and attorneys also have ample opportunities.
There are different types of attorneys – associate attorney, corporate attorney, litigation attorney, etc., whose duties vary from helping clients negotiate contracts to guiding their clients in civil lawsuits.
Paralegals are also in high demand — a bankruptcy paralegal assists lawyers by advising clients regarding their financial situations while a litigation paralegal helps attorneys by preparing clients for courtroom proceedings and a trademark paralegal helps clients with trademark issues. Paralegals can make about $50,000-$80,000 annually.
Last but not the least, you need to know if the job requirements matches your skills and ability. You can then analyse your skills and polish them. The core skills required to succeed in any legal field are research skills, administrative skills, and communication skills.
Any legal internship will require you to conduct extensive research. You may also be required to suggest further steps based on the research and the client’s situation. Besides this, language and communication is a fundamental tool. It is essential to convey your ideas in simple, clear terms. Moreover, since you will be required to conduct administrative tasks such as filing, data entry, etc., acquiring organisational skills is important too.
All said and done, you must enjoy the work and give it your best shot. As Jim Rohn rightly said, “Success is nothing more than a few disciplines practiced every day”.
Also Read: Careers after class 12: Law