Internships While Studying an LLM (Master of Laws) Program

Internship studentInternships are becoming increasing essential in today's economy as there is such fierce competition among law graduates. Even if an LLM student chooses to study in a foreign country and eventually plans to go back to their home country, an internship in a good law firm or an international organization will be a major asset for starting their careers in "real world", as they will be spending time working alongside experienced professionals who will provide a great learning experience. Whatever country the LLM graduate chooses to settle in, a CV featuring an internship will draw attention to the candidate, setting him or her apart from the candidates with less hands-on experience.

When should you apply for an internship?

Timing is everything in the super-competitive LLM internship game. Students should start their internship research during the second year of undergraduate law studies. This will enable a systematic approach to the internship application, as students will have plenty of time to discuss opportunities with their professors, make contact lists, compile quality resumes and make a calendar with all the internship deadlines.

The earliest time to actually apply for an internship is usually from around May of their penultimate year, so they can avoid the stress of the application deadline in January of the final year of study. Students shouldn't only consider law and consulting firms for their internship company, instead they should also apply to the available NGOs, charities and numerous international organizations such as Human Rights Watch or International Bar Association.

What about if you are an international student?

An internship is a perfect opportunity to improve legal English terminology and general language competences. One excellent way for international students to get ahead in the internship game is to apply to companies who do business in their respective countries of origin. Such interns will have a deep understanding of both their home country law system and the one in their country of study and internship. Employers will benefit from it, and it will be likely that they will hire a successful intern again, on per-case basis. 

How do the law schools help with internships?

LLM legal scalesMany law schools do offer internship opportunities – some even provide LLM programs and internship opportunities specifically for foreign students, so you need to invest time into looking up those law firms that need foreign associates. However, know that internship programs usually aren't paid nor are they necessarily available every year.

In the UK, Queen Mary School of Law (QMUL) has a great number of top-quality internship opportunities for its postgraduate law students. These range from work-shadowing judges at UK courts to doing a summer internship with the United Nations (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Meanwhile London's City Law School at City University also facilitates foreign students with legal practice opportunities in London-based law companies and international organizations. As for mainland Europe, doing the LLM Internship Program in the Netherlands is a good idea because of ample opportunities at the International Criminal Tribunals located in The Hague – and Leiden University is one of the universities here that helps its international students become interns. 

Over in the United States, Boston University provides The American Law Internship Program in cooperation with the Academic Internship Council with the aim to help foreign LLM students gain professional experience and learn about US legal culture. These internships are full-time, can be paid or unpaid and last four months or more, starting in September. The total program fee is USD $1,320. Students initially pay a $100 non-refundable fee to reserve their space in the program. They pay the remaining $1,220 only after they are accepted for an internship. 

Internships = Networking Headstart

An internship whilst studying your LLM program is a perfect opportunity to start networking professionally. Contacts are not only indispensable for making many doors open, but even their presence on your Linked In reference section will influence future employers.

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