Unfortunately, this summer I'm not clerking at a law firm because it turns out that those jobs get filled way earlier than I expected (like around Spring Break). So after finals I pretty much spent almost a whole month doing nothing/sending out résumés/stressing I won't find something to give me experience. And somehow I ended up having two internships.
Money IssuesOne thing you need to know is that right now there is a high supply of law students looking for experience, and a low demand of firms looking to pay for a student. What this means is that you should expect any internship you get to be unpaid. I'm mentioning this now because figuring out how to stretch a 9 month budget to 12 months has definitely been difficult. I wish I would've been thinking about this back in August so that I could've reduced my monthly spending just enough to have money left over for the summer rent. Right now, I'm considering taking Summer 2 classes because it would give me a little more money to finish out the summer (but also another loan so, ugh) and make my fall class load a little easier.
Although my school has a job bank website, I actually found my internship through a family friend. This is why networking is so important! His office wasn't hiring any more interns, but he had their HR send me links to other internships that were still available. One thing I found out is that a reason why it took almost a month for me to find a job is that a lot of places like to wait until grades come out before they start hiring, and unfortunately law professors like to take about a month to grade the finals.
So this summer I'm working at the Capitol for one of the Representatives. I've come to learn that Reps are really chill to work with, and because I'm paying to come to Austin out of my own pocket, they only make me come in two days a week and let me come in a little early/leave a little late so that I can beat the traffic. Mostly what I'm doing is like one long Legal Research and Writing class. At first all I was doing was research for case law/articles that support what my Rep wants to change in a statute for the next session. And when I'm not working on that, I'm doing more research for other issues. A lot of times what will happen is that constituents will email my Rep about an issue so I'm the one who finds the case law/statute that answers their question. I'm basically a Lexis pro at this point.
Besides just getting really good at my research skills, one of my favorite things about this job is networking. I've been learning about all of the different roles you can take on at the legislative level. Because I still don't know exactly what kind of lawyer I want to be, it's nice meeting people who went to law school but still don't do the typical "lawyer" job because they're busy passing laws. I also feel like a badass having clearance to go all over the Capitol in underground tunnels and passing Elementary tours while I'm in my suit on my way to a committee hearing meeting.
On my off-days when I'm still in San Antonio, I spend it shadowing a judge. My school has this thing called judicial observership which is a really cool thing. They matched me with a judge (who was also really chill about my schedule) and I just spend the whole day learning from her, along with another student from Section C.
From like 8-11, she does this thing called Docket Call. This is like when people who've been arrested have their court day. One lawyer described it to me as a "hurry wait" because the court is packed with people who have bonded out waiting in the "audience" area of the court, people who are still in jail wait in the jury's seats, and then lawyers are just running around between both sections talking to their clients. There's also a table where the District Attorney's office just kinda sets up shop because they have about 5 prosecutors who are the ones having charges against everyone that's there that day. Like 85% of what my judge does is accepting plea bargains between these guys.
Here lately, in the late afternoon she has to shut all this down because she's presiding over a murder trial. They either send the leftover people to another court or tell them to come back the next morning, then the DA's table clears out so that the 2 prosecutors for the trial can take over, the defense attorneys and their client set up, and then the jury is finally allowed in. It's crazy how much slower this trial is compared to what you see on TV. Most of the time is spent establishing a record, so having the crime scene investigator coming in an testifying to her background/credentials and then explain to the jury what she examined, etc.
My judge is super nice so any time there's a lull during any part of the day, she'll come over and explain to us what is going on and making sure that we understand what the lawyers are doing. One day she even took us to lunch and told us how she got started after law school, what it's really like being a lawyer, and how to balance having kids and this kind of a job.
Sorry this was such a long post, but I wanted to share a little bit about other internships you can have besides clerking. Obviously I want to clerk some time in the near future so that I can get experience through that, but as the saying goes, you gotta have a job to get a job. My advice to anyone thinking about internships is start early, work your contacts, prepare your budget in case you don't get an income.