Paralegal school internship programs are an integral part of the education for this professional career in the field of law. Many paralegal jobs require a two-year associate's degree, although there are also many entry level paralegal jobs that only require the completion of a one-year certificate program. The most career doors are open to those who have a four-year bachelor's degree, particularly in a related field, such as criminal justice. Whatever educational path you take, though, the internship program will be a huge benefit in terms of standing out from the competition and preparing to hit the ground running once you get the job.
What to Expect from an Internship Program
A paralegal school internship program is not a degree, so it does not have curriculum. It is sometimes a required part of a degree or certificate program, but many paralegal students choose to complete an internship program during school or shortly after graduation, even if they aren't required. This is hugely beneficial once the graduate joins the job market, because so many paralegal programs require previous experience. An internship provides that necessary experience to help get your foot in the door.
During an internship program, the paralegal student will actually work in a law firm, government office, courthouse or legal department of a company or nonprofit organization. If you get into one of these internship programs, either through your school or on your own, you will put all your education and training to practice as you analyze cold cases, perform research and interview clients. Interns may also be responsible for drafting documents and performing other important tasks as part of a legal team. Sure, some interns also have to do things like fetching coffee, answering phones and making copies, but this is more of a rarity than a rule.
If you are a current student considering one of these paralegal school internship programs, you may be interested to know that the American Bar Association Guidelines call for all paralegal students to complete an internship if they are to be certified by the ABA. So, even if your school doesn't require an internship, it's important to complete this step. It is also important as a personal development step. You will feel so much more ready to start your new career if you've had hands-on experience beforehand. Some programs even pay a small salary or turn into paying jobs once completed. It's definitely worth the time and effort you'll put in.