Not every school requires an internship to get a paralegal degree, however, those that are certified by the American Bar Association (ABA) usually do. In fact, you can choose to take a degree program that does not require an internship; however, there are many advantages to going with one that does. Eventually, those paralegals that want to be certified by the ABA will do an internship even if it is not required as part of their degree program, as it is an ABA certification requirement for paralegals. Thus, having a school that already has these connections in place and can help you get those clock hours towards certification while you’re also completing the degree can be well worth the extra time and effort.
Most Schools Will Offer Internships
If your school offers an internship, it may or may not be a requirement for graduation. You may be able to take classes towards a paralegal degree and do the internship at the end – after you’ve graduated. If you have your own connections, there is no reason why you can’t use those to complete internship requirements when and if you choose to do so. However, you need to check with your individual school to see if the internship is a requirement of obtaining your degree or not, as each school will differ.
Why Internships are Valuable
It’s not only the ABA that sees the internship as a valuable way to obtain work experience; it’s also tremendously helpful to students trying to get their foot in the door. Those without connections of their own can rely on a school’s network to help them get placed somewhere as they have probably had previous students doing internship with firms in the area at least once before. This will help students obtain employment by providing proof that they have previous work experience in the form of an internship that has been supervised by the school. While you might have to get coffee or photocopy documents, an internship through a school will usually include higher level tasks like research and drafting important documents.
Your Internship Can Be Paid Too
Another reason some schools like the internships is that they can offer a modest stipend. Not all internships are unpaid, and the extra money can help students during their financially tough school years. Find out ahead of time whether your school will demand that you work a paid or unpaid internship. It can help you decide whether you might be able to get a better deal working out an internship offer after you graduate. However, if the school requires the internship just to get the degree, then you will be stuck taking whatever they offer you to fulfill the requirements of the program. To determine whether you will to complete an internship to get your degree, talk with your chosen school. Some programs require an internship, and others do not.