Internships are the foundation of your career. A good internship can be an amazing experience for you whereas a bad one can ruin your life. Internships need due diligence and you need to do proper research on your end to end up with the best choice.
And with law internships specifically, there is a big debate w.r.t. interning at a place which has a brand name tag attached to it versus a smaller firm with not as much recognition.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of working at both, shall we?
1. Impressive CV – A popular firm that has a so-called ‘brand name’ attached to it will always look good on your CV. It will help you get subsequent internships and will help you bag great placements as well.
2. Networking – Since big-shot lawyers roam around with other big-shot lawyers, you, a newbie cub with an exclusive pass to this pack can use those contacts to your advantage and network, baby!
3. Stipend – Big firms have a lot of money to throw around. That’s one of the incentives they lure interns in with. You can easily make up to 10k a month along with other great perks!
Not so well-recognized firms
1. Work on cases from the ground up – Smaller firms and practices bite off more than they can chew because they’re trying to establish themselves and could do with copious amounts of help. And that’s where you come in. You get to work side by side with lawyers on certain projects for a long period of time. You get treated as part of the team and not just as a student but a prospective lawyer whose opinion will be welcomed and very much appreciated.
2. Mentorship – Since there aren’t a lot of employees buzzing around, you get to interact with experienced lawyers and the bosses take an interest in you, personally who will help you guide through this labyrinth that is the legal career. You get to develop your skills and become hella confident since you hang out and converse with lawyers all day!
3. Placement – If you do a good job and gel well with the other associates and the partners, chances are you’ll be offered a job on the spot. Like I mentioned before since they’re establishing themselves as a possible forerunner in this field, they need all the help they can get and bagging good lawyers to be a part of their team is just the first step!
Well recognized firms
1. Lack of Mentors – Unfortunately, the lawyers don’t care about interns as much in big firms. Either you already know how to do the work assigned to you, or they can find someone else to do the job. Lawyers don’t spend as much time teaching you or mentoring you in big firms which is a shame, really, because internships are all about learning.
2. Office Politics – Big firms are riddled with office politics and if you don’t know how to carefully navigate through those vines, chances are you’ve been caught in the middle with no shears to help you escape. Make sure to never take sides. You’re a fresh-faced newbie who is about to start your life. You don’t want to mess that up by getting on the wrong foot with an influential lawyer.
3. Work Load – With respect to the amount of work you get, I’ve actually heard two sides to this story. Either you get an internship at an amazing well-reputed firm who are slammed with work and need help, so they delegate that work to you, which is amazing because you get to do real work (as opposed to clerical work) and actually learn a whole lot.
But on the other end of that spectrum, you have firms that will treat you like the lowest scums of the earth and who will give you all sorts of menial jobs. You will come out of that internship with the last shred of your dignity barely hanging on to your soul.
Not so well recognized firms
1. Low Stipend – Smaller firms and practices award their interns’ very low stipend, and at times if any. They can barely stand to support themselves, let alone pay students who are there on a temporary basis and who barely do any of work. But of course, if you do a genuinely good job, it will never go unnoticed.
For example, last year, when I interned at this small firm in Chennai for 6 weeks, I was pretty sure the work I was doing was sub-par. I never got instant feedback on my work and I was fumbling in the dark 70% of the time. But I did what I was told and I did it on time.
The thing is though, your boss will never breathe down your neck to make sure you’re working, instead, they’ll keep a watchful eye on you from a distance and evaluate you on your merits. And that’s what happened with me. I was given a pretty hefty stipend at the end for a job well done.
2. Infrastructure – If you’re someone who needs a large working space to be productive, then maybe avoid smaller firms. Of course, smaller offices and small firms aren’t always mutually inclusive, but one of the cons of not having a lot of money is poor infrastructure. They have to cut costs where they can. They will provide you with the most basic necessities you’ll need to be able to work, but no more than that.
I personally have worked in offices that perpetually reeked of sewage and the washrooms looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years. It makes you not want to go to work at all.
Have similar anecdotes to share? Know of any more pros and cons? Comment below and let us know!
Image Credits: Google
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