Joseph Perez 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The Benefits Of Legal Internships: Bridging the Gap Between Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Legal Professionals While internships in law school are not mandatory, many students and employers find that participating in these programs is beneficial to them in a number of ways. Law students will find legal internships and externships to be a great way to help them decide what niche in the legal field to specialize in after graduation, or if they hope to utilize their degree with a non-traditional employer or industry. Law students interested in obtaining legal experience while in school have a wide array of programs to choose from. Judicial clerkships are among the most popular because they allow students to intern for court judges at the federal and state level. Many participate in clinical programs that provide firsthand experience into what takes place during trials and within court settings and is an invaluable experience. Students also have the option of doing a legal internship at an actual law firm. For law firms whether large or small, the ability to have additional assistance with their case loads is always welcome. Both students and law firms benefit from the working relationship that is created when working together as many internships/externships lead to permanent employment once the student has graduated. The law firm is able to ‘try out’ the working relationship and fit before making an offer to a graduate. This option gives the employer a better glimpse of a former intern’s future performance. The link between a law student and a potential internship/externship employer or law firm, many times, begins with the career or professional development services and opportunities the student’s law school is able to provide them. While many law schools have similar career service programs, there are several schools that have competitive differentiators that set them apart from other legal institutions. One such example of the services that a law school offers their students, alumni and law firms/ employers is Phoenix School of Law. The Center for Professional Development (CPD) at Phoenix School of Law is a full-service counseling and resource center that supports and assists students and employers in all stages of the placement process. The CPD offers a wide range of services and programs that are responsive to evolving market realities. The Center for Professional Development targets three groups of individuals: students, alumni and employers. Students: Students attending PSL receive personalized, hands on, intensive and interactive counseling. This student and counselor relationship is one that remains throughout the student’s duration at PSL. It is through this strong relationship that a counselor can maximize the student’s fullest educational and professional potential. A key program CPD provides their students is the Externship Program. Students can access an externship directory of approximately 80 pre-approved employers, and are encouraged to seek their own externship employer thus, providing them for greater networking opportunities within the legal community. At these externships students are able to gain academic credit while spending time learning from and assisting their employer. Another hugely popular program is the Valley of the Sun Law Clerk Program. This summer program is made possible by a grant from PSL to participating employers. The grant covers a match of the hourly wages paid to the student by the employer. The program is more flexible than the Externship Program, and allows for students to work full time thus, also making it more attractive to employers seeking more work assistance from the student. Alumni: PSL Alumni are also privy to the benefits of the CPD after they graduate. CPD offers a variety of alumni specific resources to assist them as they progress in their legal career. Another resource offered to alumni as well as current students and employers is the Law Library Bar Access Program. For a small initial fee to cover the cost of creating an identification card and a modest annual fee to cover the cost of services and modified database licenses, PSL provides broad access to its physical and online collections. Employers: Phoenix School of Law’s Center for Professional Development offers a variety of flexible recruitment opportunities for employers such as the Externship Program and Valley of the Sun Law Clerk Program mentioned above. One of the very attractive and unique features of PSL’s Externship Program is it is made available to private law firms in addition to public interest and government employers. The Valley of the Sun Law Clerk Program has proven to be particularly attractive to solo, small and midsize firms. “Given PSL’s mission to educate practice ready lawyers, the ability to attract these smaller private firms bodes well for both the student and employer. For the student, working for a smaller firm has the benefit of joining a more intimate environment where they are often given a higher level of responsibility on day one. For the employer, they receive an individual that is prepared and ready to hit the ground running,” says Joseph P. Perez assistant dean of professional development. In January of 2013, for the first time, PSL will be hosting an externship fair inviting any firm or employer who wants to participate in the summer externship program to go on campus for one-on-one interviews with interested students. This two day fair will be a great opportunity for current students to interact with employers looking to hire them. This fair also benefits the employer as PSL will schedule the interviews for them and provide a space where the potential employer and students can meet. If you are a prospective law student or law firm interested in the services available to you at the Center for Professional Development at Phoenix School of Law, please visit http://www.phoenixlaw.edu/careerservices/ or contact: Joseph Perez, assistant dean of professional development.
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