Internship with City Legal Department

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273202
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Internship with City Legal Department

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 09, 2012 12:59 pm

I may have the option of interning with the legal department of a fairly large city. Has anyone done this before? Are these worthwhile ventures? How do they compare to interning with a judge or a private firm? Is it a good way to make contacts? Do you get to do any business-related work?

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273202
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Internship with City Legal Department

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 09, 2012 3:33 pm

I interned during my 1L summer at the Indianapolis Office of Corporation Counsel, which is the name of the city's city legal department. I found the experience to be outstanding because, in sum, it basically gave me more hands-on learning opportunities than any of my classmates.

First, I worked mainly in three different departments: litigation, prosecution, and counseling. Litigation required assisting the attorneys in the office with defending various city agencies, officials, or the city in general. A large bulk of my work came in this department and this is where the hand-on experiences came about. For example, with the help of my supervising attorneys, I had the opportunity to interview police officers and city officials in person and draft affidavits based on those interviews. These affidavits became part of the records that the attorneys or I would cite in drafts of briefs or motions. This kind of work is available through city legal departments because I think that they have so many cases coming their way that they're able to get a student deeply involved in the strategic details of the litigation. Among the sea of cases they get, some of them are perfectly compatible with providing an intern with great summer experience.

The prosecution involved enforcing the city code against alleged violators. For example, I drafted several complaints for violations of animal treatment and historic preservation ordinances among others. Counseling involved working with city officials in order to comply with city and state law as ordinances and policies were discussed and promulgated.

Second, I think that, at least from my experience, city legal departments are a great way to make contacts because law firms from all over the city, at times, have worked both with and against the city. In other words, most law firms interact with city legal all the time. Further, the people at city legal usually have worked previously at firms, in other governmental agencies, or at places such as the Attorney General's office and this provides additional notoriety among the attorneys there.

Third, while it is tough to clearly recall, I know that I had at least some business-related work. Specifically, the main project that I can remember involved reviewing a several hundred page real estate contract between the city and another organization for control over land and sidewalk space near or around the Indianapolis Convention Center. Now, I know that this is not 100% pure transactional work like, for example, reviewing portions of a deal to contract out parking meters around the city to a private firm, but it did expose me to nitty-gritty contract review in detail.

Overall, I had a great experience and I think that city legal departments provide better experience than both firms and judges (mind you, I'm biased). There are several reasons why city legal is better than firm work, at least as a 1L: (1) at least in my experience, I drafted portions and sometimes entire, actual court documents that the attorneys used in litigation; (2) the client interaction was unmatched and didn't involve just sitting in on meetings, but involved talking one-on-one with city officials; and (3) I had entire case files in my office that allowed me to actually see the litigation process, whether it was defense or prosecution related, and gave me a good idea of the investigative and legal work that these cases required. There are some very obvious reasons why city legal is better than working for a judge: (1) the work at city legal provided multiple perspectives (i.e., prosecution, defense, counselor); (2) the documents that I worked on are the same documents that will be important when working at a firm; and (3) while interning for a judge does slightly get your foot in the courthouse door, so to speak, I've heard stories about student interns being relegated to mindless administrative work which I didn't have to deal with at city legal.

OP, I think it would be helpful for you to also know that during my 2L summer I was a summer associate at Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Baker Daniels) working mainly in their patent department.

HTH

Anonymous User
Posts: 273202
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Internship with City Legal Department

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 09, 2012 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I may have the option of interning with the legal department of a fairly large city. Has anyone done this before? Are these worthwhile ventures? How do they compare to interning with a judge or a private firm? Is it a good way to make contacts? Do you get to do any business-related work?

Thanks in advance.


San Francisco?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273202
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Internship with City Legal Department

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 09, 2012 4:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I may have the option of interning with the legal department of a fairly large city. Has anyone done this before? Are these worthwhile ventures? How do they compare to interning with a judge or a private firm? Is it a good way to make contacts? Do you get to do any business-related work?

Thanks in advance.


San Francisco?


No.

Anonymous User wrote:I interned during my 1L summer at the Indianapolis Office of Corporation Counsel, which is the name of the city's city legal department. I found the experience to be outstanding because, in sum, it basically gave me more hands-on learning opportunities than any of my classmates.

First, I worked mainly in three different departments: litigation, prosecution, and counseling. Litigation required assisting the attorneys in the office with defending various city agencies, officials, or the city in general. A large bulk of my work came in this department and this is where the hand-on experiences came about. For example, with the help of my supervising attorneys, I had the opportunity to interview police officers and city officials in person and draft affidavits based on those interviews. These affidavits became part of the records that the attorneys or I would cite in drafts of briefs or motions. This kind of work is available through city legal departments because I think that they have so many cases coming their way that they're able to get a student deeply involved in the strategic details of the litigation. Among the sea of cases they get, some of them are perfectly compatible with providing an intern with great summer experience.

The prosecution involved enforcing the city code against alleged violators. For example, I drafted several complaints for violations of animal treatment and historic preservation ordinances among others. Counseling involved working with city officials in order to comply with city and state law as ordinances and policies were discussed and promulgated.

Second, I think that, at least from my experience, city legal departments are a great way to make contacts because law firms from all over the city, at times, have worked both with and against the city. In other words, most law firms interact with city legal all the time. Further, the people at city legal usually have worked previously at firms, in other governmental agencies, or at places such as the Attorney General's office and this provides additional notoriety among the attorneys there.

Third, while it is tough to clearly recall, I know that I had at least some business-related work. Specifically, the main project that I can remember involved reviewing a several hundred page real estate contract between the city and another organization for control over land and sidewalk space near or around the Indianapolis Convention Center. Now, I know that this is not 100% pure transactional work like, for example, reviewing portions of a deal to contract out parking meters around the city to a private firm, but it did expose me to nitty-gritty contract review in detail.

Overall, I had a great experience and I think that city legal departments provide better experience than both firms and judges (mind you, I'm biased). There are several reasons why city legal is better than firm work, at least as a 1L: (1) at least in my experience, I drafted portions and sometimes entire, actual court documents that the attorneys used in litigation; (2) the client interaction was unmatched and didn't involve just sitting in on meetings, but involved talking one-on-one with city officials; and (3) I had entire case files in my office that allowed me to actually see the litigation process, whether it was defense or prosecution related, and gave me a good idea of the investigative and legal work that these cases required. There are some very obvious reasons why city legal is better than working for a judge: (1) the work at city legal provided multiple perspectives (i.e., prosecution, defense, counselor); (2) the documents that I worked on are the same documents that will be important when working at a firm; and (3) while interning for a judge does slightly get your foot in the courthouse door, so to speak, I've heard stories about student interns being relegated to mindless administrative work which I didn't have to deal with at city legal.

OP, I think it would be helpful for you to also know that during my 2L summer I was a summer associate at Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Baker Daniels) working mainly in their patent department.

HTH


Thanks for the very insightful response. I think I'll probably take the job. My only concern is that they seem to have a lot of interns (20+). Do you think this will have any effect on the quality of the project I get to engage in?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273202
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Internship with City Legal Department

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 09, 2012 10:19 pm

It's the guy from Indianapolis again:

With such a high number of interns, I'm not sure whether they'll move you folks around throughout the summer or sort of have people focus where there more comfortable. I would probably ask the person who's in charge of the program and see how it's done. Even though Indianapolis is a fairly large city, our intern program had only three people so I have a sort of different perspective when it comes to adapting to the large intern pool. I'm sorry I don't have as much insight when it comes to a larger office like the one you're talking about.

However, that said, I know for a fact that city legal departments are constantly loaded with work, so I don't think opportunities for you to get in-depth involvement with a few projects throughout the summer will be lacking.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.