Law internships for international students in the US
Attorney Michael Avenatti represents adult film actress Stormy Daniels. An internship stint with him will be a great boost to an international student's CV. Source: AFP/David McNew/Getty Images

Having an international internship, or several, under your bely will instantly boost your CV.

Not only does it let you put your knowledge and skills to action in a foreign country, it also signals to future employers that you have experience working with a diverse group of people, and possess a network of connections you can later leverage on as well.

Many universities now provide internship opportunities alongside their industry partners – sometimes students don’t even need to apply to these as they are already integrated in their course.

But when it comes to law students, the path to an international internship is far more complex.

For one, there may be some confusion over legal status. Or your undergraduate education may have been based on a foreign legal system irrelevant to the US.

While it can seem like an impossible task, it can be done. Here are some tips on how you can apply for a law internship as an international student in the US:

1. Attend career fairs

Career fairs are a great way to meet potential employers. Source: Shutterstock

Many law firms in the US can be apprehensive about hiring international applicants – plus, some would already be inundated with a pile of applications from local students. As such, international students must go the extra mile to stand out.

But even the most impressive résumés and cover letters won’t do you justice if it just ends up in the HR manager’s inbox. This is where career fairs come in.

It may be hard to land yourself an interview with a law firm but as an attendee at these fairs, you have a selection to choose from and have the chance to meet them in person, doing your best to convince them to hire you for that upcoming intern position.

New York University Law School hosts the International Student Interview Program (ISIP), in which 1,600 law students from 32 US schools get to participate in a full day of interviews with companies for law-related positions in the US and abroad. Whether it’s for a permanent position in the US, an internship or a secondment, this event is a great opportunity for international students to exploit.

2. Visit International Student Services

As many LLM students in the US will know, summer internships are hard to come by as positions are rapidly filled, sometimes years in advance.

But with enough effort from you and help from the dedicated International Student Services (ISS) at your school, it can be possible to secure a position with a local firm. Your ISS can also help you sort out any visa issues related to your internship.

3. Curricular Practical Training

A handful of US law schools offer Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to international applicants – an internship for credit concurrent with coursework.

The CPT allows students to be employed as an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.”

Conor Boyle, originally from Ireland, used CPT while he was an LLM student at Suffolk University Law School.

“You won’t wait until after graduation to try out your new skills,” Boyle said.

4. Use the American Bar Association’s (ABA) website

The ABA’s  Section of International Law’s International Internship Program provides a listing of law firms all over the world who are offering to host summer internships.

These firms are located in several continents and include countries both in the developed and developing world. Take note however that the ABA section does not get involved in the internship process beyond listing available opportunities.

Interested students should submit all inquiries and applications to the firms directly.

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