Interning: The Do’s and Don’ts

Completing an internship is a great way to get legal experience as a pre-penultimate student. Want to find out how to secure an internship? See our previous post here.

Your first day can be nerve racking, especially if you’ve never had any practical experience within the law, or general administration.

Tested through trial and tribulation, here are some tips for interning.

Do – Wear Comfortable Shoes

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The first day of my internship, I wore some brand new (wow, who thought that would be a good idea?) badass red heels. Great in theory, terrible in execution. As an intern you do a LOT of walking. Long story short, I ended up bursting a blister and having to take my heels off on the steps of the District Court, leaving me shoeless in the presence of a SC. My boss took me to Target to get some more sensible, badass red flats. Lesson learned.

Don’t – Be Late

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This is a given, yet I feel like some people still don’t get it? There is no such thing as ‘fashionably late’, when you’re an intern. The people you are working for are taking the time out of their day to share their knowledge with you, the least you can do is be 5 minutes early.

Pro tip: I always text my bosses to ask if they want me to bring them a coffee before I arrive in the morning. Acts like this don’t go unnoticed!

Do – Ask for Help

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If you get asked to complete a task but have no idea how – don’t freak out and start Googling ‘jobs outside of the law’. You’re not a lawyer yet and you’re not going to get in trouble for not knowing how to do something! Interning is about learning on the job. If you’re unsure about an issue, ask someone for help. This will save you a lot of time and stress!

Don’t - Expect to be Paid

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If we were lucky enough to live an an employment utopia - everyone would be paid for the work they do. There are some paid internships out there, they will generally be advertised as such. If you’ve approached a firm asking for them to take you on as an intern, don’t expect to be paid. Think of doing an unpaid internship as a practical element of your law degree that’s going to benefit you in the long run! It will open up plenty of doors for paid work down the track.

Do - Keep busy

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There will be times where you finish a task quicker than expected. Don’t use this spare time to check your socials or wait for someone to come along and ask if you need some work to do. Use your initiative and check if there is anything that anyone needs help with. See the communal kitchen sink is filling up? Give it a clean! It’s the small things that will be noticed and lead to bigger responsibilities later on.

Don’t - Be afraid to ask about other people’s experiences

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Everyone had to start somewhere, chances are your colleagues completed an internship just like you! If you’re stuck at what to talk about at the lunch table, ask some questions. “What was your first appearance in court like”, is a great way to break the ice!

Do - Have fun!

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Interning shouldn't be super stressful! You’re there to observe and learn. Chances are you’ll get the opportunity to do some pretty cool things. Enjoy the ride and keep an open mind.

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