Taking internship at small PI shop?

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Anonymous User
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Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:29 pm

Here's the situation. I'm a TT school, 2L, just below median. Full scholarship, so no crazy debt (~20k total, that includes non-student loan debt though). Got legal WE 1L summer and current semester, but I have some bad grades on my transcript, and have had little luck with interviews and obviously none with OCI.

Applied on a whim through Symplicity at a small PI shop (3 offices, 5 attorneys, ~10 other staff FWIW). Interviewed and got an offered an internship. Includes a stipend, which will cover my travel costs and just a bit extra, I won't go into specifics but it isn't a ton. Money isn't a problem, I won't go into the reasons. The lead attorney I interviewed with made it very clear he hopes for internships to lead to future employment, and that the internship will include plenty of practical experience, specifically in the discovery process. I'm somewhat concerned that PI has a bad reputation though. I don't have an incredibly precise idea of what I'd like to do eventually, getting settlements from insurance companies doesn't sound so bad, but it's hard to shake the whole ambulance chaser, name on a bus stop vibe that PI has. I really would like to practice environmental law, but the positions I would want are few and highly-competitive (which I am not).

Am I being stupid? Should I just take the practical experience (and potential for a job option)? Or would something like this have the potential to turn another future employer off? I'm sorry my question isn't all that focused, but I'm just looking for general advise I suppose. Thanks.

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Young Marino
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Re: Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby Young Marino » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:43 pm

If you have no other option right now I'd go with the PI gig. Even if that is your first job out of law school it doesn't have to be forever. At worst, do it for two years to get some experience and go into something else later

Anonymous User
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Re: Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:50 pm

There is enormous variation from PI shop to PI shop. Some PI firms are very legitimate and do consistently high quality work. Many are not. Without more detail, it's hard to give you advice on this. If your firm is legit--and I would say that a minority are--then I think this could be a great experience. I'm a HYS grad with two federal clerkships and I strongly considered applying to a couple PI firms, and that obviously wasn't for lack of other options.

But bad PI can be really pretty bad. It can be very stressful, very low-paying, have few advance options, and entail doing mostly icky drudge work.

Signs of a strong PI firm include: mostly referral business (and therefore little attorney advertising); mostly big cases; a lawyer or two who have been repeatedly regionally or nationally recognized.

Signs of a weak PI firm include: mostly advertisement-based business; mostly small cases; lawyers just seem sleazy.

Obviously, there will be exceptions to all of this. And, really, key to your happiness anywhere is going to be how much you like working with the specific people at that firm. I'm sure there are lawyers at settlement mills that just love their work. So without knowing more, I'd try your best to just get a gut feel on how much you like the people and what the work really seems like it'll be. You know better than anyone else here does how good or bad you're going to feel about making your career on settling volumes of soft tissue injury cases with insurance companies.

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Re: Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:57 pm

Young Marino wrote:If you have no other option right now I'd go with the PI gig. Even if that is your first job out of law school it doesn't have to be forever. At worst, do it for two years to get some experience and go into something else later


Yeah, I guess that's always true. Thanks.

Anonymous User wrote:There is enormous variation from PI shop to PI shop. Some PI firms are very legitimate and do consistently high quality work. Many are not. Without more detail, it's hard to give you advice on this. If your firm is legit--and I would say that a minority are--then I think this could be a great experience. I'm a HYS grad with two federal clerkships and I strongly considered applying to a couple PI firms, and that obviously wasn't for lack of other options.

But bad PI can be really pretty bad. It can be very stressful, very low-paying, have few advance options, and entail doing mostly icky drudge work.

Signs of a strong PI firm include: mostly referral business (and therefore little attorney advertising); mostly big cases; a lawyer or two who have been repeatedly regionally or nationally recognized.

Signs of a weak PI firm include: mostly advertisement-based business; mostly small cases; lawyers just seem sleazy.

Obviously, there will be exceptions to all of this. And, really, key to your happiness anywhere is going to be how much you like working with the specific people at that firm. I'm sure there are lawyers at settlement mills that just love their work. So without knowing more, I'd try your best to just get a gut feel on how much you like the people and what the work really seems like it'll be. You know better than anyone else here does how good or bad you're going to feel about making your career on settling volumes of soft tissue injury cases with insurance companies.


Attorney seemed like a decent enough guy, and staff seemed friendly. He indicated business is primarily referral based, and he has some pretty noteworthy cases under his belt (one was a suit against a city for wrongful imprisonment IIRC) but yeah, plenty of insurance settlements as well. Like I said, he seemed like a nice guy, but that was a pretty limited interaction. I'll do some further research. Thanks for the advice.

rdawkins28
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Re: Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby rdawkins28 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:34 pm

PI is not our bread and butter, but we get 2 or 3 of them a year, mostly through referral of current clients. We've also refused PI work that isn't of interest to us for various reasons. So the bright side is that we don't do any ambulance chasing.

That said, PI work can be quite rewarding. You're going up against insurance companies that don't want to pay or lowball your clients. Their immediate assumption is that your clients are lying, the pains are minimal, there are pre-existing conditions, and so on. So clients really do need someone to represent them. Interestingly, the attorneys for the insurance companies are among the most professional attorneys I've seen. They're tough, but very professional.

Anonymous User
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Re: Taking internship at small PI shop?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:53 pm

rdawkins28 wrote:PI is not our bread and butter, but we get 2 or 3 of them a year, mostly through referral of current clients. We've also refused PI work that isn't of interest to us for various reasons. So the bright side is that we don't do any ambulance chasing.

That said, PI work can be quite rewarding. You're going up against insurance companies that don't want to pay or lowball your clients. Their immediate assumption is that your clients are lying, the pains are minimal, there are pre-existing conditions, and so on. So clients really do need someone to represent them. Interestingly, the attorneys for the insurance companies are among the most professional attorneys I've seen. They're tough, but very professional.


Yeah, I would feel pretty good about getting insurance companies to pay up, and the fact your client is probably getting screwed without you (or any attorney).

Interestingly enough, a few minutes after I posted this I got a call to interview at the department of law for a major (relative to my state) city. So if I land that, maybe I can split time between the two.




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