Best Practices for Your Summer Internship
Updated May 26, 2022
- Whether you are working remotely or in-person your intentions should be the same: to produce excellent work for the organization, gain additional legal experience for yourself, and build your professional reputation in the legal community.
- Establish early on what the organization’s expectations are and what your goals for the internship are. What are you hoping to gain from it — are there specific skills or knowledge areas you’re hoping to develop?
- Keep track of the client matters you work on by utilizing a personal conflicts log that you may want to use throughout your time in law school.
- If you are working remotely, establish a home office from where you work. Set up a space that will minimize distractions.
- Make sure you are ready to take a video call without notice — this means appropriate personal appearance, as well as visual background and surrounding noise level. Always assume that you may need to keep your camera on for the duration of the meeting. Remember that you are on their timeline, they are not on yours.
- Remote work can feel more informal, so do not forget you are in a professional setting. Do not use informal language, or emojis, unless it is clearly appropriate for the office culture/communication setting. Always be mindful of your audience.
- Remote work is not limited to email. Sometimes a phone or video call is more efficient than a long email exchange. It is also easier to build relationships and rapport via phone/video. Before sending an email or picking up the phone, make sure you have gathered your thoughts/questions.
- When assigned a project, make sure to clarify the deadline, format (email vs. formal memo, etc.), expectations regarding progress updates throughout the project, and preferred method of communication. Ask questions and take notes.
- Confirm with your supervisors the best way to reach them to schedule a time to talk in the event you have questions or otherwise need to reach them when working on assignments.
- If an occasion arises where you are not going to be available during normal working hours (doctor’s appointment, for example) make sure to communicate this to your supervisor/relevant colleagues.
- Be proactive in asking for feedback. If possible, receive feedback in person or via phone/video so that a discussion can develop.
- If not already an established protocol, suggest possible arrangements such as a daily email update on your work progress and intentions for the next day. This can also be helpful for supervisors to manage workflow.
- Assume that everything (email, chats, etc.) is viewable by supervisors and remember your ethical obligations of confidentiality when using technology.
- Your organization may have already established a protocol for connecting with others, so make sure to take advantage of these opportunities. If alcohol is available at an in-person event, remember to be mindful of your intake and behavior.
- Law School Fellowships expect that, at a minimum, your supervisor will videoconference with you twice a week.
- If working remotely, be proactive in setting up video coffee chats with non-supervisor attorneys to learn about the work they are doing and build relationships throughout the organization.
- Don’t forget about building relationships with fellow summer clerks and interns as well. For example, organizing Zoom meet-ups, book club/movie/podcast discussions, checking in to discuss work projects, etc. can all be helpful ways to connect.