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Internships While Studying an LLM (Master of Laws) Program

Internship student

While there is a lot of competition to get admitted into an LLM program of your choice at the right university, the race to secure an internship at a good law firm or relevant company during or after completing your LLM degree can be even more intense!

Internships are becoming increasing essential in today's economy as there is such fierce competition among law graduates for employed work. Some LLM students do an internship while they are on the LLM program; while others may begin once they have submitted their final LLM dissertation.

Internships are a perfect opportunity to kick-start your legal career – especially if you want to get practical knowledge of working in an organisation. 

Where to find internships

Students can consider a wide variety of places to apply to for their internships, from law and consulting firms to available NGOs, charities and numerous international organisations such as Human Rights Watch or International Bar Association, as well as through universities and law schools.

For example, UK university Queen Mary, University of London has a collaboration with the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) which allows a certain number of Queen Mary law students for an opportunity to undertake a summer placement with BIHR. Meanwhile, research institutes such as the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) offer internship opportunities in public/private international law, investment or rule of law. 

Examples of postgraduate law internships within the UK could include:

  • An opportunity to shadow a judge at the High Court/Court of Appeal
  • Postgraduate internships at the International Bar Association’s offices in London
  • Internships at the International Maritime Organisation in London
  • Law firms such as Allen & Ovary have summer and winter internship programs 

Internship opportunities at specialised law firms, in fields like insurance law, intellectual property law, maritime and so on are also a great place to start for students on specialised LLM programs.

Internships in the EU could include: 

  • A summer internship with the United Nations (UNCTAD) in Geneva
  • An internship with ICC Court of Arbitration
  • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) internship opportunities 

Where to start your search

1. The law school where you do your LLM program would be the right place to get your initial internship advice. Talk to your LLM program faculty, career consultants or law school alumni to find out more about LLM internship opportunities.  

2. Attend networking events at university or law society sessions. These forums will usually advertise internships in law firms and companies. 

3. Keep updated online – as an LLM student, you should be keeping your eyes out for internship opportunities. One way in doing this would be subscribing to emailing lists of websites that regularly advertise LLM internship opportunities. For example, blogs such as International Law Observer can be useful in getting regular updates for LLM internships.

Remember, although an internship won’t guarantee you a job in the organisation where you work, it can increase your future prospects within the same organisation or if you applied outside.

How else can law schools help with internships?

Many law schools offer internship opportunities themselves, and some even provide LLM programs and internship opportunities specifically for foreign students. So if you are an international student so you need to invest time into looking up law firms that need foreign associates. However, it’s important to realise that internship programs aren’t usually paid nor are they necessarily available every year.

Internships in the UK

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. London's City Law School at City University also facilitates foreign students with legal practice opportunities in London-based law companies and international organisations.

Internships in Europe

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. 

Internships in the United States

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.

What about if you are an international student?

If you are an international LLM student who has chosen to study in a foreign country but eventually plan to go back to your home country, an internship in a good law firm or an international organisation will be a major asset for starting a career in the ‘real world’. You will be spending time working alongside experienced professionals who will provide a great learning experience. Plus, as an international LLM student, an internship is a perfect opportunity to improve your legal English terminology and general language competency.

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, and they will also have the relevant language skills. Employers will benefit from this, and it will be likely that they will hire a successful intern again, on per-case basis. 

Whatever country the LLM graduate chooses to settle in, a CV featuring an internship will draw attention to the candidate, setting them apart from the candidates with less hands-on experience.

Internships = networking head start

Undertaking 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 LinkedIn reference section will influence future employers.


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