How is a Summer Pre-Law Program Different from an Internship?

While some Summer Pre-Law Programs have embedded internships, they are generally more focused on coursework and gaining insight on the path ahead. Basically, many pre-law programs cater to students who are in the early stages of achieving a bachelor’s degree. The majority of undergraduate students that participate are thinking ahead and, as they should be, doing all that they can to be excellent candidates for law school. Most of the pre-law summer programs out there literally enforce this practice, by not only training participants on the ins and outs of the LSAT exam, but also how to think like a law student. The majority of the options out there feature lectures by law experts and field trips to sites that are significant to the history and current state of legal practice. Some programs offer networking as a key focus, as this is a field where knowing people is an important part of the framework of advancement. In terms of preparation for law school applications, many pre-law summer programs help undergraduate students build a solid foundation with the rest of their undergraduate degree. This makes them stand out in the field as a prospective lawyer. Many of the program offerings are for target populations of prospective law students. For example, you will see several that are specifically designed to level the playing field and bring more lawyers of color into the courtroom. There are some that support Christian pre-law students, and others that call on underrepresented groups to participate. Several of these programs are subsidized and/ or offer scholarships to ensure financial resources do not play a role in who is able to access such opportunities. 

Pre law internships in tandem with a pre-law summer program make a lot of sense, because students can be gaining the hands-on training that supports what they are learning within the coursework that they undergo. A summer undergraduate law internship can include a variety of tasks from getting coffee for a senior attorney to sitting in on trials, conducting legal research, filing and making copies, courtroom preparation, and other tasks that vary based on the intern’s experience. However, an internship certainly does not take the place of the comprehensive LSAT preparation and law school application knowledge that come with most of the featured programs. 

What Will Impress Law Schools More? 

This is a good question with not one answer. Doing both a pre-law summer program and an internship will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. However, showing law schools the way you apply the skills gained from both opportunities will make you look like the strongest candidate. For example, it is critical that you do well on the LSAT exam, and a summer pre-law program will support that outcome. It is also imperative that you understand all of the ways to shine on your law school applications, which will certainly be covered in many of the summer pre-law programs as well. Another beneficial aspect of some of the summer pre-law programs that are available are the rigorous nature that show your ability to push ahead with gusto. If law school requires anything, it’s the stamina to keep your head in the game and stay the course. Though many of the programs at hand have fun social elements, they are also quite demanding. Some even come with mentorship that will follow you beyond the summer experience. 

Tangible work experience is always impressive, especially if you can get a good reference out of the deal. The law school application requires some references, and you will certainly look good if it comes from a legal expert for whom you have worked in their office. 

Do I Need to Already Be Accepted Into Law School to do an Internship?

No. In fact, the majority of the internships for pre-law students that are out there are specifically for undergraduate students. They call for people in the early process of courting the field of law as a potential career path. There are certainly a select few that offer internships for those who are already accepted, but most are resume builders for the application process. 

Internships for pre law students are an excellent way to understand if this is the right field for you. There are many careers that engage justice, and though being a lawyer brings you to the front lines of that calling, an internship might be telling there is another path you are more suited for. Some students move from law to social work, or something similar that will give them the tools to make a difference. Other students learn what kind of law they want to practice from their internship and subsequent field work, and walk away more tools to go after that dream. There are never too many ways to prepare yourself for this path. Certainly, there is no dearth of programming to provide the skills to excel on your applications and move forward.