For pre-law or law curious undergraduates, it can be hard to find internships in the field that aren’t specifically targeted at law students.
First, know that you do not need to have an experience within the legal field in order to consider law school – law internships are not mandatory in order to successfully get into law school. Experiences in other fields can give you transferable skills like communication, critical thinking, analysis/research, etc. that are all things that are valuable, both in law school and in other potential careers.
However, you may want to get a better a feel for what the legal field is like, and internships can be a good way of learning and exploring. If you’re interested in finding opportunities, here are some ways to get started.
- Most internships in law and law-adjacent areas hire the semester before – early deadlines are generally in December or January, and the majority of internships usually have deadlines in February and March, or occasionally later than that.
- Most large law firms don’t offer legal internships for undergrads, so consider looking at legal internships at government agencies, non-profits, and smaller law firms – places like Judicial/Chambers, County Clerk’s, Legal Aid societies, Public Defender, Attorney General, & District Attorney’s offices, etc. are all more likely to have either internships that are open to undergrads, or internships specifically targeted at undergrad students.
- Large job boards like Handshake, Google, or LinkedIn can be good starting points, however for undergraduates this can be tricky as searching for law internships generally turns up results for current law students. Using “undergraduate” as a keyword can help, but sometimes targeting a specific area or city, researching what companies/non-profits/agencies operate in that area, and going directly to a company/organization’s website can be another strategy for finding things nearby.
- For searching within specific fields there are niche job boards that you can use; for example, Idealist is a great resource for finding internships related to non-profit or common good work. Tom Manatos Job List is a central site for political opportunities on the hill. And there are more industry specific resources on our Government, Law, & Public Policy and Non-Profit
- Some law firms offer undergraduate internships in other areas of business, marketing, etc. While more adjacent to legal work, they can give interns a chance to experience the culture and workings of a law firm, and an opportunity to meet attorneys.
- Networking can also be a useful tool to learn from professionals in the field more about their experiences, what advice they might give someone looking to get into the same niche, etc. If you do speak with someone, thank them for their time and let them know they’re welcome to pass along anything they might hear about to you.
- Internships that are either unpaid or underpaid can be another hurdle – if you’re worried about finances for the summer, there are a number of potential summer funding sources both through Penn and outside of Penn that can support unpaid and underpaid summer experiences.
- ACLU Pennsylvania
- American Bar Association – Civil Rights & Social Justice
- American Bar Association – Rule of Law
- Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (Annenberg/Penn Law)
- DC Public Defender Service
- Immigration Equality
- Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
- Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
- National District Attorneys Association
- National Immigrant Justice Center
- Northeast Legal Aid
- Pennsylvania Prison Society
- Public Interest Law Center, Harvard Law School
- Supreme Court of the United States
- The Advocates for Human Rights
- The Public Interest Law Center
- Women’s Law Project
If you have questions or need help, you’re welcome to make an appointment or set up a same-day drop-in to come talk with us!