Not challenged at internship

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Anonymous User
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Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:54 pm

Anonymous because people know where I'm working this summer/who I am.
I'm working at a gov agency in D.C. this summer (unpaid internship). The first few weeks I had a lot of assignments, but it has kind of slowed. The majority of days I have multiple hours to kill. The internship is good for the networking/meetings/extra events I've gone to and the work assignments that I have done have been substantial, I just feel like I should be getting more and that I'm wasting my summer. One attorney is my point of contact, but I've probably worked with him far less than other attorneys and I get assignments with various people, which might be the reason it's not consistent. Talking to other interns in DC this summer makes me feel like I'm the only one with this issue and that everyone else is doing a lot more writing/research/substantial work than me. Should I be worried? Any advice for how to approach people about getting more to do? Is everyone else's internship awesome or are other law students hyping their jobs?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

vegeta
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby vegeta » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:58 pm

Do a bang-up job with the assignments you're given. Feel free to ask around periodically to see if there are new assignments coming down the chute, but don't be a desperate gunner who's bugging the attorneys. Just be chill. Find ways to be useful and if you really can't find anything to do, DOUBLE-CHECK and proofread your assignments before turning them in. Read it over, make it letter perfect, citecheck, bluebook, etc.

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Broseidon
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Broseidon » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is everyone else's internship awesome or are other law students hyping their jobs?

I suspect many do. A ton of people at my LS have "Certified Legal Intern" as their job on FB and from the ones I've spoken to, they would make you believe they're preparing to argue before SCOTUS. If you're a rising 2L, don't be surprised that the assignments you're being given seem elementary--you know absolutely nothing at this point and your superiors know this. Towards the end of the summer you may get more challenging work.

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Broseidon
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Broseidon » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:01 pm

vegeta wrote:Do a bang-up job with the assignments you're given. Feel free to ask around periodically to see if there are new assignments coming down the chute, but don't be a desperate gunner who's bugging the attorneys. Just be chill. Find ways to be useful and if you really can't find anything to do, DOUBLE-CHECK and proofread your assignments before turning them in. Read it over, make it letter perfect, citecheck, bluebook, etc.

This is terrific advice.
Last edited by Broseidon on Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anonymous because people know where I'm working this summer/who I am.
I'm working at a gov agency in D.C. this summer (unpaid internship). The first few weeks I had a lot of assignments, but it has kind of slowed. The majority of days I have multiple hours to kill. The internship is good for the networking/meetings/extra events I've gone to and the work assignments that I have done have been substantial, I just feel like I should be getting more and that I'm wasting my summer. One attorney is my point of contact, but I've probably worked with him far less than other attorneys and I get assignments with various people, which might be the reason it's not consistent. Talking to other interns in DC this summer makes me feel like I'm the only one with this issue and that everyone else is doing a lot more writing/research/substantial work than me. Should I be worried? Any advice for how to approach people about getting more to do? Is everyone else's internship awesome or are other law students hyping their jobs?


Probably some of this. And next year when you're asked about it during OCI talk about it like it was the best internship this side of the White House.

vegeta
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby vegeta » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:28 am

Don't worry too much about your 1L summer. Honestly, your grades will matter much more. I was in your boat too. Be patient young cricket.

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dood
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby dood » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:46 am

hahahaha. ur work product sucks bro.

vegeta
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby vegeta » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:18 am

dood wrote:hahahaha. ur work product sucks bro.


My, that was helpful.

Anonymous User
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:44 am

Same situation here. I'm at a DoD internship instead, though. Only 1 attorney in my office and he's extraordinarily busy. He doesn't like when I come to visit and ask for more work. Or give him back what I have done. I am doing my absolute best on everything I am given, but a lot of the stuff I get is out of my league as a 1L (draft opening statement, direct examination of witnesses, closing arguments, sentencing recommendation, etc). And he never has any samples to work off of.

And to top it off, nothing I have produced has actually been used in any capacity (I don't even think it has even been read). I prepped for a jury trial and it got plead out. Done a bunch of memos, but they are now sitting in a file box somewhere and I haven't heard back on any of them.

Getting frustrated.

Anonymous User
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:51 am

To anon above: that is what trial work is like. If you don't like preparing opens, DX and CX outlines, and recommendations, even though the vast majority of your cases are going to plead out and you'll have wasted your time... you need to re-think your career choice.

Especially at a government agency, you're there to support the attorneys, get some experience, and hopefully contribute to the agency's mission/serve your country/whatever. You're complaining because your internship is like every other internship that doesn't involve a provisional/clinical (depending on what your state calls it) student license.

If you aren't getting substantive work assignments that you feel like are challenging you, there are good odds it's because the attorney you're working with doesn't trust you to do anything else. It's still early in the summer. Do a bang-up job on what you're given and maybe you'll convince your supervisor you can handle more.

vegeta
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby vegeta » Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:Same situation here. I'm at a DoD internship instead, though. Only 1 attorney in my office and he's extraordinarily busy. He doesn't like when I come to visit and ask for more work. Or give him back what I have done. I am doing my absolute best on everything I am given, but a lot of the stuff I get is out of my league as a 1L (draft opening statement, direct examination of witnesses, closing arguments, sentencing recommendation, etc). And he never has any samples to work off of.

And to top it off, nothing I have produced has actually been used in any capacity (I don't even think it has even been read). I prepped for a jury trial and it got plead out. Done a bunch of memos, but they are now sitting in a file box somewhere and I haven't heard back on any of them.

Getting frustrated.


First, change your attitude. You're coming at this the wrong way, and I'm sure it'll show. You're probably not a bad student or person: you want to do well, get some good work product in, and come away with a fulfilling experience. You see that things are going as swimmingly as you expected, and you're getting frustrated. Chill. You're a 1L summer. Do the work that the attorney gives you and do it well. If you can tell that asking him certain questions at certain times is bugging him, then stop doing it. Try a different approach; use your social skills. Maybe shoot him an email instead so he doesn't feel pressured to answer you every time you walk into his office. (I don't know what your office situation is like, but perhaps you can approach some other attorneys who might need work.)

Second, not everything you write is golden. Doesn't mean the work is bad or below you. Unfortunately you're not going to be writing the winning brief on an MSJ as a 1L intern at a large government agency. Again, like I said before, do the work that you're given well! Typos, grammar mistakes, common bluebook errors, wrong cites, etc. are below you, too: fix them. Make sure the stuff you turn in is polished. There's no such thing as a rough draft when you're a summer. For those assignments that you're not given a template or previous sample to use, sorry about that. That's got to be tough. Try asking around or looking on the shared hard drive for samples. Every time he assigns you something, just quickly ask, "By any chance, do you have a sample I can use? Or maybe a template of some sort?"

Good luck, work hard, and don't be a malcontent.

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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:56 am

assuming you want a job through 2L OCI, literally nothing you do your 1L summer matters. just embellish whatever tasks you do have for your interviews - most interviewers will only ask about 1 major assignment anyways.

my 1L summer was chill as fukkkk. the world cup was going on and all my fellow interns and I did (also in DC btw) was watch soccer and mess around online and occasionally do work. by my 10th week, I was coming in at 12 or even 1pm and leaving at 4 or 5. nbd, don't worry about it.

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ggocat
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby ggocat » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:12 am

If you have multiple attorneys giving you work and you hit a slow point, the attorneys will assume you've got work from someone else. Just go ahead and ask for more work. No biggie.

Also, certainly do what others suggested and make your work perfect. This includes running the research to the ground. If you do inadequate research, the lawyers are much less likely to use you because that is the most time-consuming part of the writing process. I would much rather receive a bunch of case summaries for factually analogous cases rather than a perfectly written memo without the best cases.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:27 am

OP: Are the other DC interns with whom you've spoken interning in the same agency ? If so, then the attorneys may not be pleased with your work. Ask for critiques.

Anonymous User
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:54 pm

OP here. Thanks for the input everyone. It was reassuring to hear that others had similar 1L experiences.
Yeah, the other interns I was referring to are at other agencies so it's hard to judge myself against that. I'm sure I'm not blowing anyone away this summer, but I don't think the quality of my work is the problem. I think it is a matter of attorneys assuming I have things to do from other people and not wanting to overload an unpaid intern.
I ended up getting some positive feedback on work I've done and got assigned some new things to work on today anyway. So, I'll just relax a little when I don't have something immediate to do and maybe start asking some people if there's anything I could help out with.

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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for the input everyone. It was reassuring to hear that others had similar 1L experiences.
Yeah, the other interns I was referring to are at other agencies so it's hard to judge myself against that. I'm sure I'm not blowing anyone away this summer, but I don't think the quality of my work is the problem. I think it is a matter of attorneys assuming I have things to do from other people and not wanting to overload an unpaid intern.
I ended up getting some positive feedback on work I've done and got assigned some new things to work on today anyway. So, I'll just relax a little when I don't have something immediate to do and maybe start asking some people if there's anything I could help out with.


I'm a 2L with this problem. Bill 5 hours a day most weeks and just kinda hang out in my cubicle the rest of the time. Tried asking people for work but I think it just comes off as annoying then. No idea what to do...spent most of today perusing the internet; attorney that hired me doesn't seem concerned, but this sure feels like a catch-22.

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Broseidon
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Broseidon » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think it is a matter of attorneys assuming I have things to do from other people and not wanting to overload an unpaid intern. .

The bolded is very true. I remember when I did an unpaid internship, I always had to ask for work because everybody at the firm (even the partners) felt bad about giving me assignments considering I was basically volunteering. After a while it got uncomfortable bugging the same people each morning for work.

rad lulz
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby rad lulz » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:21 pm

vegeta wrote:
dood wrote:hahahaha. ur work product sucks bro.


My, that was helpful.

There might be some truth to this. If you do shit work, people want to work with you less.

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Broseidon
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby Broseidon » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:29 pm

rad lulz wrote:
vegeta wrote:
dood wrote:hahahaha. ur work product sucks bro.


My, that was helpful.

There might be some truth to this. If you do shit work, people want to work with you less.

Tough to swallow especially if you've been a special snowflake for your entire life, but rad may be onto something. A few fuck ups in the beginning are tolerable. A continued record of turning in crap and people won't exactly be begging for your take on an issue, especially if they're the ones who need to fix your mess.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby AVBucks4239 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:22 pm

I work at a small firm and had a similar experience at the beginning of this summer. I think I've learned how to get work (I like to be busy), so I'll share.

By far the most important thing you can do is gain the trust of the attorneys in your office. The only way to gain their trust (and get more work) is to turn in good work for the assignments they give you. You have to turn in great assignments, perfectly edited (no need to bluebook, that's a bunch of bullshit, just make sure they can find the case), with good logical arguments.

Good tips for this are to write down as much as possible when an attorney assigns you something, and ask questions up front. Writing everything down assures you won't forget something important, and asking good questions should steer you in the right direction, thus saving you time on assignments. You also want to email the attorney every few days to let him know how you're progressing on the assignment (only email him if you've actually done something or it's been a few days).

It's also important that you follow up after you've turned something in. Sometimes you think you turned in a great memo when it's a piece of shit (like my first memo). You need to not only do well, but follow up to make sure. Given what you described, this may be what's happening to you...so start emailing and following up 4-5 days after you turn something in. This also goes back to you "not feeling challenged." Your attorney expects you to know nothing, so he gives you easy assignments. If you turn in shit work, he will still keep giving you shit assignments. The level of difficulty of work you get is definitely a gradual process.

If you feel like you are nagging the attorneys, there are more subtle ways to get work.

If you have multiple attorneys that assign you stuff, briefly discuss other things you have assigned from other attorneys. They don't communicate what they assign to you so they just assume you have shit to juggle. This means that they don't feel like they always need to give you work, but it also means that they know/won't be offended if you're working on something for another attorney. For example, if you're updating an attorney about writing a Brief in Opp and didn't get spend much time on the assignment for a few days, say something like, "I spent a few hours finishing my last assignment from Mike, but I should be able to get your Brief in Opp finished by the end of tomorrow." This not only updates him, but let's him know that you don't have any work from Mike either.

Another thing is to ask for work on mid-afternoon on a Thursday/Friday. Your attorney won't give you something by the end of the day, but he will likely spend the weekend of thinking about shit he does not want to do next week. That shit will end up on your desk Monday morning, and you'll have plenty to do.

The last thing I learned will get you good brownie points in the office--ask the secretaries/paralegals if they need help with anything. Don't think that just because you're in law school means you're above filling out standard forms/writing mundane letters. The secretaries have great relationships with the attorneys. They will not only appreciate that you are willing to help out, but they will probably let their attorney know, "Hey, our law clerk is doing paralegal stuff, do you have anything to give him?"

Hope this helps. Keep doing quality work and before you know it, you'll have too much to do in too little time.

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AreJay711
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby AreJay711 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:13 am

I know how you feel. I know with me part of it is that the attorneys had been stockpiling things for me to do before I got there and now we're ahead of the curve. Working for a gov't agency, you also have to remember that it isn't like they are worked to death so there really might not be much that you are able to help on.

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ggocat
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Re: Not challenged at internship

Postby ggocat » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:26 am





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