Internships increasingly used as a route into legal profession

BY:Dan Griffin

Source: The Irish Times, Mon, May 27, 2013

International practice and new recruitment policies at home have seen work internships become highly sought after by law students looking to secure employment after graduation.

Many of the State’s top legal firms now recruit through internship channels, taking on students for periods of about four weeks, and then – if they qualify through the process – offering them training contracts, which tend to run for upwards of three years.

Career advantage 
Undergrads have come to recognise the career advantages of placements and, as Jane Babb from Arthur Cox points out, have started to demand more schemes. Babb runs Arthur Cox’s trainee programme and says a recent decision to increase their internship programme was “probably us reacting to what the students want” – and what the students want is experience.

“They may well be looking for that experience because more of them are doing international programmes in the States and they’re in JD [juris doctor] classes where doing internships is the norm and, indeed, where doing an internship that leads to an associate position is the norm,” Babb says. “They have kind of brought that back and normalised it here.”

University law departments also encourage their students to seek internships and in many cases facilitate them in doing so.

Seán Ó Conaill lectures in constitutional law at UCC, where work placements form an integral part of undergraduate law courses. He says the pathways to a legal career have changed since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.

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