Of course it is very important to have a prestigious law firm’s name on your resume. But before that, working in a small law firm could be a “plus” for your legal culture and your future legal practice. Therefore, here are the 5 main reasons why you should make your first internship in a small law firm:
Number 1: It is much easier to obtain an internship in a small law firm
Let’s speak the truth. When you are a second year student, no one trusts your legal skills. Instead, you may suggest making photocopies or legal secretary office for instance. Small law firms always need such services. As for me, at first, I had great difficulties to find a position in a law firm since I had no previous experience and no string pulling. As a consequence, I took my phone and rang all the lawyers in the phone book. After repeating at least 30 times the same introduction, a lawyer accepted to meet me for an interview. I was simply meant to be at legal secretary. But I did far more interesting things.
Mandy Tinot surrounded by three other GED students at an EY event – © Christophe Rabinovici
Number 2: You can work on more interesting things
In fact, the biggest law firms are more likely to hire a Master 1 or Master 2 as a trainee. The main advantage of the size is that if your work is valuable, the lawyer may give you more responsibilities. For instance, the lawyer may ask you to draft some legal acts. It is a way to put into practice the doctrine you have read. Whereas in bigger law firm, the hierarchy is so structured that you will never have to draft a legal act.
Plus, in these law firms, you’re more likely to meet the clients. You can understand how these people rely on Justice to solve their problems. You can see the impact of your work in someone’s daily life. For instance, when a father recovers his child custody thanks to the lawyer, your law studies become more vivid. It really humanizes the job.
Number 3: You can observe the daily life in a jurisdiction
If the lawyer trusts you enough, he may ask you to do the tasks he can’t do himself. For example, you may be asked to leave a case file at the tribunal. This is a very valuable task when you are a law student because you can observe the daily life at the tribunal. You can meet the court clerks; see how the lawyers beg them into taking their last-minute case file, etc.
Sometimes, a court clerk can even call you “Maître” or another lawyer can call you “Confrère” !
You have to take advantage of each experience because when you will work in a big law firm, you may be far from this legal reality.
Number 4: You can work on a wide range of subjects
Lawyers in small law firms have to diversify their legal advice in order to obtain more clients. As a consequence, in one single day, you can work on family law, or labor law, or even on commercial law. It really helps you to decide whether you really want to be a lawyer, and in which legal field.
This internship in a small law firm has been very valuable for me since it has confirmed my will to be a business lawyer. Once, I had the great occasion to attend a business assets handover. I can remember the moment when I thought, “this is what I want to wake up for!”
Number 5: At the end of the day… the choice is yours!
In one short word: don’t be ashamed of being a trainee in a small law firm! Take advantage of every opportunity because it is the only way you will be able to choose which job suits you the most.
By Mandy Tinot