Due to high demand, more legal internship programs are providing virtual internships.
Such programs allow more students to enjoy the internship experience, particularly those who might not have otherwise had that chance.
Virtual legal internships aren’t just convenient either – they’re necessary for your safety. During a time of global pandemic, companies are doing all they can to keep their employees and interns safe and healthy.
That being said, as with just about everything in life, there are pros and cons of virtual legal internships. Today, you’ll learn what some of these are so you can be in a better position to decide if such a program would be the right fit for your needs.
The High Points – Why Consider Virtual Legal Internships
To start, consider the following benefits of investing your time and energy in remote law firm internships.
Health and Safety
Were you thinking about applying for a virtual law internship in the summer of 2020? The time has come and gone but hope isn’t lost.
Due to the pandemic, more law firms are offering online internships. The purpose is to keep these programs going and to protect the health and safety of everyone involved. Not only are you less likely to contract COVID-19, but you get to reduce your risk of contracting other infections that are easy to catch in a crowded environment, like the seasonal flu and the cold virus.
Independence and a More Flexible Schedule
Besides staying healthy, an online legal internship gives you a sense of freedom and independence. You have more flexibility and control over your schedule. You don’t have to worry about showing up to work late because of traffic.
Collaboration Tool Advancements
One of the cons of virtual legal internships – which we’ll discuss in more detail later – is communication issues.
Fortunately, tech is on your side and more law firms offering online internships are taking advantage of tools to improve communication between team members.
It would behoove you to investigate these tools now. You can let law firms offering online internships know that you are well-versed in them and ready to hit the ground running once you’re accepted/hired. Here are some of the most popular tools currently being used:
- Microsoft Teams
- Drift Video
- Soapbox from Wistia
- Salesforce Chatter
- Google G-Suite
Work with Your Dream Firm No Matter Where You/They Are
Is there a firm that you’ve longed to work at ever since you decided you wanted to get into law? It might seem impossible, especially if you’re across the nation or on the other side of the world.
However, that’s one of the great things about virtual legal internships. You can live and work in California while participating in a virtual law internship in the UK or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The possibilities are endless.
Get the Chance to Explore Various Niche Practice Areas of the Law
Some students use internship programs to hone their current skill set. One of the perks of an online legal internship, though, is that you can expand your horizons.
You can continue focusing on your current niche practice area or those that are the most popular/profitable, such as:
- Corporate law
- Tax law
- Criminal law
- Family law
Or you can take some time to explore other niches, including:
- Medical law
- Revenge Port law (sextortion, online harassment)
- Fashion law
- Cannabis IP law
- Assisted Reproductive Technology law
- Intellectual Property law
- Real Estate law
Take Advantage of Multiple Internships
Because you have more control over your schedule, you may be able to participate in more than one virtual internship. Of course, to successfully handle your workload, you need to embrace efficiency, refine your time management skills, and set realistic expectations.
It’s also a good idea to discuss the matter with law firms offering online internships. Are they on board with you participating in more than one program? If so, how supportive will they be if you need to restructure your schedule to fit both programs into it, as well as your schoolwork and home life?
Learn New Skills
Delving into a new niche or learning how to use internet communication tools aren’t the only skills you’ll develop if you choose to participate in an online legal internship.
Working from home allows you to learn some practical problem-solving skills. Not every lawyer is going to end up working in a large, comfortable corporate office. Sometimes, you’ll have to deal with circumstances that aren’t ideal. Virtual legal internships give you a chance to practice that in a safe setting.
You’ll learn how to communicate clearly and concisely, mentally digest new laws or laws from different parts of the country or world, and so much more that will benefit your career.
The Cons – Why a Virtual Internship Might Not be the Best Choice
While the positives of virtual legal internships are clear, it’s good to look at the other side of the coin. Here are a few of the challenges you might face when participating in remote internships.
Even though there are a plethora of online communication tools, difficulties can still arise. There’s nothing like face-to-face, real-time communication.
Internet glitches can leave you “stranded” in the middle of a Zoom call or affect your ability to connect with your team at all.
Misunderstandings and miscommunication are quite common when people rely solely on emails, texts, and IMs. Such misunderstandings can lead to mistakes, as well as interpersonal conflict.
Low Supervision Can Lead to Low Productivity
Do you need to be micromanaged? No. However, knowing a supervisor is around is a great incentive for staying as productive as possible. When you’re home alone, it can be easy to slack due to boredom or distractions.
Challenges of Working from Home
When you’re working in an office, everything around you is geared toward keeping you as productive as possible and focused on work.
At home, though, there’s almost nothing that says “work” unless you have a dedicated office space, which not everyone has the privilege of having.
Distractions are aplenty and can include:
- Other people (siblings, parents, children, roommates)
- Loud neighbors
- An uncomfortable work setting
- Not having all the tools/resources you need at your fingertips
A major concern about any type of online work is cybersecurity. Anyone dealing with confidential information – like client’s names, financial or medical information, contact details, etc. – needs to keep those records safe.
Cybercriminals are constantly creating new ways to hack into computers to steal private information. It’s vital to discuss this matter with the company you’re going to work with to make sure you and any information you’re working on for them won’t be vulnerable to hackers.
You Might Not Be Well-Versed in Local Laws
It might be your dream to participate in an online legal internship across the world or another state. Unfortunately, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve.
As it is, you’re well-versed in the laws of the land where you live. Laws in another state, district, or country can and often do vary. You’ll need to spend some time researching and quickly learning those laws so you can be an asset to the company you’re working for.
Even though you’ll regularly communicate with your team, working on your own can get lonely. Time recently reported that cases of loneliness have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. And yet, people have access to each other virtually, but some still struggle with loneliness. You must decide if virtual legal internships are something that will help or hinder your mental health.
Lack of In-Office Experience
While participating in an online legal internship, you’ll receive a lot of training, experience, and knowledge. Most employers will view that as an asset, making you more appealing as an employment candidate.
Unfortunately, remote internships aren’t enough for some employers. They want you to have real-time, in-office, in-person experience. Whether you have this or not could trump your chances for landing a job you really want.
Considering a Virtual Legal Internship? Intrax Global Internships Can Help
After reviewing the pros and cons of virtual legal internships, you might decide that the pros far outweigh the cons. Where do you go from there?
The next step is to find support to help you land the internship you want and apply for a visa if necessary. Intrax Global Internships works with students and companies alike, helping them through the complex visa application process, making sure they comply with governmental requirements, and pairing qualified candidates with the best companies.
The new Intrax virtual internship programs can help you take advantage of virtual internship programs, so you can gain the knowledge and experience you need to take your education and career to the next level.
Are you interested in learning more about virtual legal internships? Contact us today with your questions.