PLS 380 Internship Directions for All Interested Students
Internships are highly recommended for all students and are essential career building blocks for students who do not have legal experience. Students who work full-time and are able to arrange flex time or one day off per week can do an internship.
The requirements are: 120 hours of internship work which can be stretched over two semesters with prior arrangement, attendance at monthly Saturday seminars, and an internship journal.
PLS 380 is graded credit/no credit. All paralegal certificate students must have seven graded courses and may take three elective courses on a credit basis.
- An internship is not required for graduation, and may not be the correct choice for all students especially for those who work full time and do not have time off during normal Monday through Friday traditional work hours.
- Internship placements are made by the internship instructor after meeting with each student to determine their eligibility. Students are not guaranteed an internship.
- Students may be approved for an internship in the public sector (non-profit agency) as early as their second semester. Private law firm placements are only available to students who have completed five courses which must include Pleadings, Discovery and Ethics. Students who speak a second language are an exception and can consider Immigration law firms and start that internship as early as the second semester.
- Internship applications must be submitted well in advance of the deadline to register for the upcoming semester.
- Internship application submissions will be reviewed if the internship course is offered for the upcoming semester.
- The internship class is not offered in the summer term.
Step 2) You will receive an email confirmation with the internship instructor cc’d. Review the two forms in the links provided: SF State Informed Consent Form and Students Acknowledgment Form of No LPSA. Sign them and email them to the instructor. These forms are required and students will not be allowed to register for the internship class without them.
Step 3) Review the internship host binders in the PLS Library and identify three locations as possible options for where you would like to spend your 120 hours doing your internship.
There are two binders: one for private law firms and one for government and public agencies. Please disregard the date on the host applications. They are reviewed on a regular basis and inactive ones are pulled. If you encounter a placement no longer accepting interns, please let program staff know.
All students may choose to do two internships for a total of six elective units. It is good to try two different internships if you are not sure what area of law you like best and do not have legal experience.
We have student journals in the PLS library and you can read about what students have done at their internships. Remember each internship experience is different so be sure to read several.
Step 4) Email the instructor with your resume and cover letter to set up a time to discuss your feedback and internship plan. If you will be finding your own internship or doing an in-house internship, please read the appropriate section below.
Step 5) Email your resume and cover letter to the internship host and request an interview. Do not contact them before meeting with the internship instructor.
Step 6) Provide host with a contract. The instructor can provide examples and discuss internship contracts with you.
Step 7) Once you have secured an internship with a contract, email the contract to the instructor to receive a permission number to add the class. Students are blocked from registering without a permission number.
Step 8) Register before the add/drop deadline for the term.
Students are always encouraged to find an internship that best meets your geographical or special area of law interests. For those students asking to do an internship in the office of a new host, please provide them with the SF State PLS Internship Host Application Packet. This packet includes a customized letter to encourage new internships. Contact the internship instructor for these materials. You may give out his or her email to anyone who has specific questions about mentoring an intern.
Students who work in law firms or companies with legal departments can do special placement internships and earn elective course credit in PLS 380. In order to meet the ABA requirements they need to find an attorney or paralegal in their office and prepare an internship contract that includes the following:
- The internship must be based on projects and tasks that are not part of their regular job duties. These projects or tasks must be "paralegal work" not clerical work. This is an opportunity for the student to learn something new. There is flexibility in the nature of the projects depending on the specific internship. The single most important criteria is that it is not part of their regular job.
- The attorney or paralegal must provide training and feedback as needed.
- An internship is 120 hours over the course of the semester, and it should not interfere with time needed for the student's regular job duties.
- A contract setting forth the tasks, projects, and other relevant details must be written and signed by the student intern and the supervisor.
- The student intern is required to keep a time log of intern hours and an internship journal.
- The internship may start as soon as the contract is approved, and students are not required to wait for a semester to start before beginning the internship work, but must register for PLS 380 course credit for the semester.
The firms who participate in these special placements do so at the request of their employee and in most cases are not willing to accept other students for internships. There is a great value to doing an in-house internship which often results in a promotion for the student. In some cases, students have been promoted to case clerk positions at the end of an internship even if they have not yet graduated! It is definitely a win-win situation for both student and employer.
Sample contracts for Special Placement are available upon request. All questions should be emailed to the internship instructor, Diane Camacho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students work out their own start dates which do NOT need to match semester start dates. After you meet with your intern supervisor, your start date and schedule should be the first paragraph of your internship contract. In some public agency and government placements you will be required to attend special training and that will determine your start date.
Internships are a wonderful experience and you need to start EARLY to get your first choice. If you are going to find your own internship, allow at least 4 - 6 weeks of lead time because you are approaching firms and other agencies that have not worked with interns and do not know the procedures.
QUESTIONS? If instructor is not available, please contact the paralegal program staff.
Please submit the student internship application form before your initial meeting.