How to Get a Paralegal Internship

A paralegal internship serves as a pivotal gateway to a rewarding career in the legal field. It equips aspiring legal professionals with hands-on experience, exposure to the intricacies of the legal realm, and a chance to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of securing a paralegal internship from comprehending what this entails to the essential qualifications and the process of discovering internship opportunities.

Also, we will discuss the benefits of being a paralegal intern, the experiences encountered during the internship, potential paths after the internship, employment prospects, and actionable tips to make the most of this opportunity.

What is a Paralegal Internship and How Can Someone Become One?

A paralegal internship is a structured, hands-on learning experience that allows individuals interested in pursuing a career in the legal field to gain practical knowledge and skills.

During a paralegal internship, participants work closely with attorneys, legal professionals, and clients to support various legal tasks and functions within a law firm, corporate legal department, government agency, or nonprofit organization. Here’s how someone can become a paralegal intern:

Qualifications Necessary to Obtain a Paralegal Internship

Embarking on the journey to secure a paralegal internship necessitates understanding the qualifications required:

  • Educational Foundation: Establishing a robust educational foundation in legal studies is imperative. Most paralegal interns possess, at a minimum, an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Comprehensive Legal Knowledge: A profound grasp of legal principles, research methodologies, and proficiency in relevant software tools is essential. Many paralegal programs offer courses that encompass these fundamental areas.
  • Effective Communication Skills: Proficiency in written and verbal communication is paramount for paralegals. Demonstrated competence in drafting legal documents and adeptness in client and attorney communication hold significant value.
  • Proficiency in Legal Research: Paralegals frequently engage in legal research to bolster attorney endeavors. Proficiency in utilizing legal research databases and the ability to analyze and synthesize information is a highly sought-after skill.
  • Meticulous Attention to Detail: Precision is a hallmark of the legal profession. Exercising meticulousness in tasks such as document review, proofreading, and record-keeping is indispensable.
  • Upholding Ethical Standards: Upholding a strong ethical foundation is non-negotiable. Paralegals handle sensitive information and must unwaveringly adhere to ethical standards and attorney-client privilege.

Process for Finding a Paralegal Internship

Securing a paralegal internship entails several key steps:

  • Polishing Your Resume and Cover Letter: Create a well-structured resume that accentuates relevant coursework, skills, and any previous legal experience. Tailor your cover letter for each application to convey your enthusiasm for the specific firm or organization.
  • Effective Networking: Harness your professional and academic networks. Attend career fairs, alumni events, and legal seminars to forge connections within the legal sphere. Personal recommendations often act as keys to unlocking opportunities.
  • Utilizing Online Job Boards: Explore job boards and websites dedicated to listing legal internship opportunities. Notable websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and often feature paralegal internships.
  • Leveraging Career Services: Consult your college or university’s career services office. They offer invaluable guidance, and job listings, and can assist with resume refinement and interview preparation.
  • Conducting Firm Research: Diligently research potential firms or organizations where you aspire to intern. Familiarize yourself with their areas of practice, culture, and values. Tailor your applications to reflect this knowledge.
  • Submitting Application and Nailing the Interview: Submit meticulously crafted applications and prepare thoroughly for interviews. Showcase your knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for the role. Be ready to discuss relevant coursework and experiences.

Advantages of Being a Paralegal Intern

Interning as a paralegal offers an array of advantages:

  • Practical Experience: It furnishes hands-on experience, enabling interns to actively participate in real legal cases, draft documents, conduct research, and interface with clients.
  • Networking Opportunities: Building a professional network is pivotal for future job prospects. Internships enable the cultivation of valuable connections within the legal community.
  • Enhanced Resume: A paralegal internship bolsters your resume, rendering you a more competitive candidate in the legal job market.
  • Insight into Legal Practice: Interns gain a firsthand glimpse into the daily operations of law firms or legal departments. This experience aids in making informed decisions about pursuing a legal career.
  • Potential for Future Employment: Many firms offer permanent positions to their interns after graduation. A successful internship can serve as a direct pathway to a job offer.

What Happens During a Paralegal Internship?

A paralegal internship offers interns a firsthand look into the inner workings of the legal world. Throughout this internship, participants actively engaged in supporting attorneys and legal teams.

A significant portion of the role involves conducting legal research, where interns gather critical information, precedents, and statutes to bolster legal arguments. 

They gain proficiency in using legal research databases and develop the skills needed to locate and analyze relevant legal data.

Another pivotal aspect of a paralegal internship is document preparation. Under the guidance of experienced attorneys, interns are tasked with drafting a variety of legal documents, including contracts, pleadings, and briefs. 

Attention to detail and adherence to formatting and citation guidelines are paramount in this role. Additionally, interns often have the unique opportunity to interact with clients, witnesses, and occasionally even opposing parties, honing their interpersonal and communication skills.

Depending on the firm’s practice area, interns may also attend courtroom proceedings, such as hearings, trials, and depositions. 

This exposure offers valuable insights into the litigation process and underscores the role of a paralegal in contributing to legal strategies.

In essence, a paralegal internship is a comprehensive and dynamic learning experience that equips interns with essential skills for a successful career in the legal field.

Possible Destinations After the Internship

Upon the successful completion of your paralegal internship, several potential career trajectories await:

  • Entry-Level Paralegal: Many interns receive offers for entry-level paralegal positions within the same firm or organization where they interned.
  • Legal Assistant Roles: Exploring roles as a legal assistant, focusing on administrative tasks and supporting attorneys.
  • Specialized Paralegal Careers: Embarking on specialized paralegal roles in fields such as family law, corporate law, immigration, or intellectual property, aligned with personal interests.
  • Pursuing Legal Education: Some interns leverage their experience as a stepping stone to law school, furthering their legal education.
  • Alternative Legal Career Paths: Applying acquired skills in related fields such as compliance, contract management, or legal technology.

Paralegal Internship Jobs and Employment

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Upon completing a paralegal internship, individuals often wonder about their employment prospects and the array of job opportunities within the field.

The experience gained during an internship significantly enhances one’s qualifications and opens doors to various employment options within the legal industry. Here are some examples of Paralegal Internships:

1. The Department of Justice (DOJ) Pathways Program:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) offers a highly respected Pathways Program, which includes internships in various legal capacities.

This program is an excellent opportunity for those interested in federal law and policymaking. Interns work on assignments related to criminal prosecution, civil litigation, immigration, civil rights, and more. 

They gain hands-on experience in a professional legal environment, working alongside experienced attorneys and legal professionals.

The DOJ Pathways Program often leads to a deeper understanding of the federal legal system and provides a pathway to potential long-term employment with the Department of Justice.

2. Legal Aid Society Internships:

Legal Aid Societies across the United States provide valuable internships for those passionate about making a positive impact in underserved communities.

For example, the “Legal Aid Society of New York” offers internships in various legal areas, including housing rights, family law, immigration law, and criminal defense. 

Interns at these organizations work on real cases, often representing clients who cannot afford legal representation.

This experience allows interns to directly contribute to social justice and gain insight into the challenges faced by disadvantaged populations.

3. Big Law Firm Internships:

Prestigious law firms such as “Baker McKenzie” and “Dentons” offer comprehensive paralegal internship programs.

These programs provide exposure to a wide range of legal practice areas, making them particularly appealing to individuals who wish to explore various facets of the legal profession. 

Interns at big law firms assist with legal research, document drafting, case management, and client interactions.

They work closely with seasoned attorneys and gain valuable insights into the workings of a large-scale law firm. These internships often serve as a stepping stone to a successful legal career.

4. Corporate Legal Internships:

Major corporations like “Microsoft” and “Google” maintain in-house legal departments that frequently hire paralegal interns.

Interns in corporate legal departments are exposed to a diverse array of legal matters, including contract review and negotiation, intellectual property issues, regulatory compliance, and corporate governance. 

They work closely with corporate attorneys and legal teams to support the organization’s legal needs. These internships provide a unique perspective on the legal challenges faced by large corporations and offer opportunities for professional growth within the corporate sector.

5. The Innocence Project Internships:

The “Innocence Project” is a highly respected nonprofit legal organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and advocating for criminal justice reform.

Interning with the Innocence Project provides a chance to work on cases that have a profound impact on people’s lives. 

Interns may assist with case investigations, review trial transcripts, and engage in advocacy efforts to prevent wrongful convictions.

This internship is ideal for individuals passionate about criminal justice reform and working to ensure the fairness of the legal system.

Tips for Paralegal Internships

To maximize the benefits of your paralegal internship, consider these actionable tips:

  • Proactivity: Volunteer for tasks, seek opportunities to learn, and actively engage with your role.
  • Relationship Building: Foster meaningful professional relationships with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and support staff. Networking plays an instrumental role in career development.
  • Effective Organization: Maintain meticulous records of your work, deadlines, and assignments to ensure productivity and accountability.
  • Solicit Feedback: Request constructive feedback on your performance and consistently work towards improvement.
  • Continuous Learning: Stay current with legal developments and emerging technologies that are prevalent in the legal field.
  • Embrace Professionalism: Uphold a high standard of professionalism in all interactions and tasks, reflecting positively on your work ethic.


In conclusion, obtaining a paralegal internship involves a fusion of educational preparation, networking, and unwavering determination.

The internship experience, replete with practical knowledge and skill development, forms a crucial foundation for a prosperous legal career. 

It opens doors to diverse opportunities across law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

By methodically following the steps outlined and capitalizing on the internship experience, aspirants embark on a fulfilling journey within the legal profession.


1. Which university offers paralegal programs in South Africa?

South Africa offers several universities and institutions that provide paralegal studies and related programs.

Some notable institutions include the University of South Africa (UNISA), the University of Pretoria, and the University of Johannesburg, among others.

Prospective students can explore these options to find a program that aligns with their career aspirations.

2. Are paralegals in demand in India?

The demand for paralegals in India has been on the rise in recent years, especially with the growth of the legal sector and the expansion of law firms and corporate legal departments.

Paralegals are valued for their support in legal research, documentation, and case management. The demand may vary depending on the specific region and legal practice areas.

3. What is a paralegal’s salary in India?

Paralegal salaries in India can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, and the type of organization.

In major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, paralegals typically earn higher salaries than in smaller towns or rural areas.

Generally, paralegal salaries in India can range from entry-level positions with lower salaries to more experienced paralegals earning competitive remuneration.

4. What is the best degree for a paralegal?

The best degree for a paralegal often depends on one’s career goals and the legal system of the country in which one plans to work.

In many countries, including the United States, a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or a related field is preferred.

However, some individuals pursue associate’s degrees or certificates in paralegal studies. It’s essential to research the specific educational requirements and preferences within the legal system of your region to determine the best degree path for your paralegal career.

Additionally, relevant coursework in law, legal research, and ethics is valuable for aspiring paralegals.

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