PLS 380 Internship Directions for All Interested Students
Internships are highly recommended for all students and are essential career building blocks for students who do not have legal experience. Students who work full time may be able to arrange flex time or one day off per week which will give them the time to do a law office, government or agency internship.
The requirements are: 120 hours of internship work which can be stretched over two semesters with prior arrangement, attendance at monthly Saturday seminars, and an internship journal.
- An internship is not required for graduation, and may not be the correct choice for all students especially for those who work full-time and do not have time off during normal Monday through Friday traditional work hours.
- Internship placements are made by the internship instructor after meeting with each student to determine their eligibility. Students are not guaranteed an internship.
- Students may be approved for an internship in the public sector (non-profit agency) as early as their second semester. Private law firm placements are only available to students who have completed five courses which must include Pleadings, Discovery, and Ethics.
How to Get Started
All students start by filling out a “Student Internship Application” form. Once completed, forms must be submitted to Diane Camacho, either as Word attachment in an email (email@example.com) or filled out and left at the front desk to my attention. Please expect 10 to 15 days for processing. While you are waiting to hear back from me, you may begin reading through the intern placement opportunity binders located in the PLS Library. There are two - one for private law firms and one for government and public agencies. They are arranged alphabetically by name of firm - not by area of legal specialty. The date on the application is when I first received it - IT IS NOT OLD AND IS STILL A GOOD PLACEMENT. EVERY SEMESTER ALL APPLICTIONS ARE REVIEWED AND ALL INACTIVE ONES ARE PULLED OUT OF THE BINDERS. I also depend on feedback from my students to keep the placement binders up to date.
Students who are starting their second semester are encouraged to choose their internship from the listings in the Public binder. I recommend internships listed in the Private binder for those students who have taken all their required courses. Students who speak a second language are an exception and are encouraged to consider Immigration law firms and can start that internship as early as the second semester. All students may choose to do two internships for a total of six elective units. It is good to try two different internships if you are not sure what area of law you like best and do not have legal experience.
After you have reviewed the possible placements, I suggest making a list of several that you find interesting. We have student journals in the PLS library and you can read about what students have done at their internships. Remember each internship experience is different so be sure to read several.
You should then make an appointment to meet with me to discuss your choices. I will assist you in revising your resume and discuss internship contracts with you. After we have met, you may want to contact any of your choices for an internship for an informational interview. DO NOT CONTACT THEM BEFORE MEETING WITH ME! I also encourage you to talk to your classmates who are doing or have done internships.
After we meet, I will give you samples for a cover letter seeking an internship, resumes, and intern contracts.
Registration for Credit
PLS 380 is graded credit/ no credit. All paralegal certificate students must have seven graded courses and may take three elective courses on a credit basis.
Students need a permission code to register for the class. Once a student has secured an internship and it has been approved by the internship instructor, he or she will be put on a list to receive a code via email. Permission codes are disbursed two weeks before the start of class. You do NOT have to worry about space in class - it never closes. You must be registered prior to the first Saturday class of each semester. Consult the Calendar & Deadlines for that date.
Finding Your Own Internship
Students are always encouraged to find an internship that best meets your geographical or special area of law interests. The program can provide internship packets that you can send along with a customized cover letter to encourage new internships. Please contact Diane Camacho for these materials. You may give out the internship instructor's email to anyone who has specific questions about mentoring an intern.
When Should Your Internship Start?
Students work out their own start dates which do NOT need to match semester start dates. After you meet with your intern supervisor, your start date and schedule should be the-first paragraph of your internship contract. In some public agency and government placements you will be required to attend special training and that will determine your start date.
Internships are a wonderful experience and you need to start EARLY to get your first choice. If you are going to find your own internship, allow at least 4 - 6 weeks of lead time because you are approaching firms and other agencies that have not worked with interns and do not know the procedures.
QUESTIONS? If I am not available, please talk to Eduardo Cerpa.
Students who work in law firms or companies with legal departments can do special placement internships and earn elective course credit in PLS 380. In order to meet the ABA requirements they need to find an attorney or paralegal in their office and prepare an internship contract that includes the following:
- The internship must be based on projects and tasks that are not part of their regular job duties. These projects or tasks must be "paralegal work" not clerical work. This is an opportunity for the student to learn something new. There is flexibility in the nature of the projects depending on the specific internship. The single most important criteria is that it is not part of their regular job.
- The attorney or paralegal must provide training and feedback as needed.
- An internship is 120 hours over the course of the semester, and it should not interfere with time needed for the student's regular job duties.
- A contract setting forth the tasks, projects, and other relevant details must be written and signed by the student intern and the supervisor.
- The student intern is required to keep a time log of intern hours and an internship journal.
- The internship may start as soon as the contract is approved, and students are not required to wait for a semester to start before beginning the internship work, but must register for PLS 380 course credit for the semester.
The firms who participate in these special placements do so at the request of their employee and in most cases are not willing to accept other students for internships. There is a great value to doing an in-house internship which often results in a promotion for the student. In some cases, students have been promoted to case clerk positions at the end of an internship even if they have not yet graduated! It is definitely a win-win situation for both student and employer.
Sample contracts for Special Placement are available upon request. All questions should be emailed to the internship instructor, Diane Camacho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Internship Application Form
Please submit this application form before your initial meeting.