Be Prepared For Your Judicial Internship

Snagging that judicial internship is a key component to advancing your career in law. Although a lot of hard work went into securing your internship, now is not the time to slack off. Be prepared for this all-important appointment by knowing what to expect from the experience.

Brush Up On Those Soft Skills

Judicial internships vary widely. You may work mostly with law clerks and other staff, or you may find yourself frequently in the judge’s chambers. Regardless, your soft skills need to be in top form. These are the skills that enable you to work well with others, such as communication, conflict resolution, and adaptability. Respect everyone you come into contact with and remember that you have been placed into an office with interpersonal relationships that span years, if not decades.

Hone the Hard Skills

Your time as a judicial intern will be spent largely on writing and research. Your appointment will likely be similar to that of Rachel Lader, who spent her internship with Presiding Judge Acosta reviewing legal briefs and observing court hearings. Study opinions and take note of the writing style and follow the examples you read. Always proofread everything you write. Attention to detail is a critical component of successful legal writing.

Adhere To Deadlines

Just plan now to make schedules and set an alarm for important items that need to get done. Courts have strict timelines they follow, and you must not be the judicial intern that clogs the machine. As soon as you have an assignment ask the law clerk the following questions: What format should you follow? Who is the audience? What is the desired length? Is there a deadline? Then make sure you meet all these expectations.

Understand the Protocols

All judges’ chambers have some level of confidentiality. You may be able to discuss cases with other interns as long as you don’t talk about the judge’s comments. Or your judge may demand a stricter code of conduct and insist that you speak to no one outside of chambers. You might even have to shred all your work folders and notes when the internship is over. Make a point to learn what the protocol is for your judge and follow it faithfully. And remember, just like Vegas, what happens in chambers, stays in chambers. Always.

Put In the Time

Understand that a successful judicial internship will demand a lot of time, much of it in the evenings. Commit now to having a flexible schedule and to putting in the hours. Unless you’ve been explicitly told otherwise, never be the last to arrive and the first to leave. At the end of your workday ask if there is anything else you can do to prepare for tomorrow. Be willing to go the extra mile to show that you are a team player and are able to bear your share of the load.

A judicial internship is an exciting opportunity. Make the most of it by being prepared, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and you will grow exponentially.