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Unlocking a Career in Law – The Path to Law Internships for High School Students

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High school is a pivotal time in a student’s life – marked by self-discovery and the pursuit of future aspirations. For some, the dream of becoming a lawyer takes root during these formative years. While the journey to a career in law typically begins in college and extends through law school, there are still exciting opportunities for motivated high school students to gain a head start through internships in different legal fields. These opportunities can be pivotal and help to inform aspiring law students about which area of law they would like to practice in one day. This blog post will outline what high schoolers can do to prepare themselves for a career in law and how they can seek to obtain relevant summer internship experience to learn more about potential legal careers.

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Prepare for an Internship by Building Skills

The first step to obtaining a relevant law internship is to build skills that would make an individual an attractive intern to a law firm or legal organization. Good lawyers are experts in writing, speaking, and logical thinking. One of the best ways to build these skills in high school is to join a speech and debate club, participate in mock trial, or take advanced writing courses. Many high schools have a speech club that is part of the National Speech & Debate Association (“NSDA”), which is the largest interscholastic speech and debate organization serving middle and high school students in the United States. Every year, thousands of high school students participate in multiple events including Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum, Policy Debate, and World Schools Debate. Each of these formats teaches students how to write compelling cases and then argue those cases in front of a panel of their peers and judges. Students can also participate in public address and speech interpretation events, which help to build public speaking skills and increase their logical thinking capabilities. 

Additionally, high school students can take advantage of joining their local mock trial team. The work experience from participating in a mock trial allows students to quickly gain perspective on what life is like for attorneys in day-to-day practice as they prepare for trial and represent their clients in the courtroom. Each year, a national competition is hosted where students from around the country compete in a national mock trial tournament. This event allows students to hone their speaking skills and learn more about the American justice system. The event is hosted by the National High School Mock Trial Championship organization.

In addition to these extra-curricular activities, students interested in the law should seek to have a strong command of writing and look to increase their logical thinking capabilities. One of the best ways to improve one’s writing and logic is to take advanced writing courses. These advanced writing courses offer high school students unique opportunities to enhance their communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and academic success. Students should speak with their academic counselor to determine what electives at their school would qualify as advanced writing courses. There are likely AP and college dual credit opportunities for students that would help them increase their writing and logic skills. In addition, there are many advanced writing courses offered online, such as ones listed on Udemy.

Obtaining the Internship – What Options Are Available?

Not only can students participate in activities that would increase relevant skills used in the actual practice of law, but students also have a plethora of legal internship opportunities to participate in. Below is a list of some of the best programs for future lawyers.

Debate Camps 

Cornell University International Summer Debate Camp

  • 9-day in-person program hosted in Ithaca, NY

  • $3,500 for camp, local commuter rate is $650

This summer program allows students to learn from Cornell faculty members and enhance their debate and logical thinking skills. You will meet students from around the world and be able to practice your argumentative skills.

Wake Forest University Debate and Public Policy Advocacy Institute

  • In-person program lasting 1 week in Winston-Salem, NC

  • $2,500 for camp, $1,500 for local commuter option

This program focuses on increasing debate and public speaking skills in order to help students learn to advocate for themselves and others. You will work on your persuasion, legal reasoning, and art of communication skills, which you can take to the boardroom, Congress, and beyond.

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Experiencing the Practice of Law 

Envision Law Program

  • In-person 10-day program in Stanford, CA

  • $4,095 for the program, which includes food, lodging, and activities

This is a program where you can join other motivated high school students to get one step closer to the actual practice of law as a future career. As part of this program, you will work with Stanford Law School professors and participate in a full mock trial simulation.

Georgetown University – “How to Think Like an Attorney”

  • $1,495 to attend

  • 100% online learning program offered in 1-, 2-, or 4-week session options

This program offered by Georgetown University gives students the chance to learn and think like an attorney. Through the course, you will discover the discipline of asking questions, analyzing evidence, and making decisions based on your analysis of the evidence and facts.

Government Law Programs and Internships

School of the New York Times: Government/Law/Ethics

  • $2,850 and a $75 tech fee

  • Online program

This program allows high school students to explore how Capitol Hill’s ecosystem works and “how ethics, the government, and law interact to form America’s center of political and legal power.” The core of this program is concentrated on ethics. By learning about the interplay between the law and ethics, students will be able to learn about how attorneys must balance those considerations when holding public office or working for the government.

Senate Page Program

  • Paid Internship

  • Must be sponsored by a current senator; length of time varies, but terms of service can be 2, 4, or 5 months

Through this internship, students are able to play an important role in the daily operation of the Senate as a “Page.” Pages play an important role in the daily operations of the Senate by delivering correspondence and legislative material, preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions, working to provide assistance during roll call votes, supporting senators during debates, and carrying bills and amendments to the desk.

Bar and Law Firm Opportunities

In addition to all the formal programs mentioned above, many local bar associations, which are professional organizations for lawyers in a specific geographic area, offer summer internship opportunities for high school students. For example, the Atlanta Bar Association offers a Summer Law Internship Program where students participate in a six-week internship in local law firms, government agencies, and corporations to learn more about the practice of law and obtaining higher legal education. 

Students can also reach out to local law firms via their human resources departments and inquire about employment and internship options. Many law firms need help with administrative tasks and office operations. If a high school student can land one of these legal intern jobs, the opportunity to work at a law firm will offer unparalleled insight into what the day-to-day life of working as a civil rights or criminal law, or district attorney, among others, is like.


As an aspiring law student, there are many ways to build the skills needed for a potential career in law and gain perspective on what the work of an attorney is like. Students can start today by seeking to build skills that will make them effective in the legal profession and obtaining relevant internship experience to inform them about the practice of law.