Legal externs are law students who took the opportunity to do on-the-job training at a law firm. Instead of monetary compensation, they receive academic credits. Legal externs primarily engage in job shadowing. They are usually assigned mentors in the law firm, and they would shadow their mentors in their daily routines. Legal externs are exposed to the actual work done by lawyers. Legal externs are involved in cases, providing insights while building a solid case for their client, giving advice to clients, and representing clients under the supervision of the actual lawyers in the firm. They are usually not given administrative or clerical tasks since they are expected to do more tasks directly related to being a lawyer.

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Legal Extern Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real legal extern resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Create PowerPoint presentation used to train staff on managing copyright and trademark infringement risk.
  • Research various aspects of criminal law; write inter-office memos defining the present juris prudence of issue research.
  • Train attorneys and librarians to use the Lexis-Nexis legal research system.
  • Proofread and edit attorney work product (grammar, usage, and content . )
  • Hire by criminal defense and plaintiff's personal injury attorneys on a case basis.
  • Proofread and edit legal documents for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, format, and content.
  • Review business associate agreements for compliance with HIPAA requirements.
  • Maintain intranet site and serve as administrator for several Sharepoint sites.
  • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation on utilizing forensics in custody cases for a supervising attorney.
  • Travele to local government and private locations to file case-relevant materials and serve subpoenas.
  • Perform manual legal research, and computer assist legal research using Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw databases
  • Draft contract amendments, participate in HIPAA breach investigation and complete a risk assessment analysis.
  • Prepare legal papers and correspondence, including motions and subpoenas utilizing legal terminology, procedures and documents.
  • Conduct legal research on issues including national origin discrimination, mandatory arbitration clauses and class action waivers.
  • Research rules of evidence in international commercial law for forthcoming treatise on international rules of evidence in arbitration.

Legal Extern Job Description

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as a legal extern is "should I become a legal extern?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, legal extern careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 6% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a legal extern by 2028 is 50,100.

A legal extern annual salary averages $47,238, which breaks down to $22.71 an hour. However, legal externs can earn anywhere from upwards of $23,000 to $93,000 a year. This means that the top-earning legal externs make $90,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become a legal extern. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a housing counselor, attorney at law, district attorney, and attorney.

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Legal Extern Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 12% of Legal Externs are proficient in Litigation, Legal Intern, and Legal Issues. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Interpersonal skills, and Problem-solving skills.

We break down the percentage of Legal Externs that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Litigation, 12%

    Maintained case information in electronic litigation support/case management system including case status, scheduling of deadlines and other pertinent information.

  • Legal Intern, 10%

    Completed competitive legal internship, developing valuable hands-on experience resolving a range of legal issues.

  • Legal Issues, 9%

    Researched cases and drafted objective attorney memos and recommendations regarding specific legal issues involving First Amendment liberties to supervising attorneys.

  • Legal Memos, 6%

    Drafted legal memos regarding various environmental rules and regulations, attended litigation related to land use, and observed client meetings

  • Intellectual Property, 5%

    Prepared a variety of intellectual property and human study contracts including confidentiality agreements, clinical agreements, and material transfer agreements.

  • Pre-Trial Motions, 5%

    Researched Chilean criminal law and drafted pre-trial motions and settlement negotiation documents in Spanish.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Legal Extern Resume templates

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Most legal externs list "litigation," "legal intern," and "legal issues" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important legal extern responsibilities here:

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a legal extern to have happens to be analytical skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "lawyers help their clients resolve problems and issues" Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that legal externs can use analytical skills to "collected, analyzed, and organized non-legal research for use in litigation and policy presentations. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform legal extern duties is the following: interpersonal skills. According to a legal extern resume, "lawyers must win the respect and confidence of their clients by building a trusting relationship so that clients feel comfortable enough to share personal information related to their case." Check out this example of how legal externs use interpersonal skills: "assist counsel and paralegals legal research attend court hearings and out of court legal proceedings file maintenance interpersonal communication skills with clients"
  • Another skill that is quite popular among legal externs is problem-solving skills. This skill is very critical to fulfilling every day responsibilities as is shown in this example from a legal extern resume: "lawyers must separate their emotions and prejudice from their clients’ problems and objectively evaluate the relevant applicable information" This example from a resume shows how this skill is used: "resolved numerous cases prior to litigation through persistent advocacy and negotiation. "
  • A legal extern responsibilities sometimes require "research skills." The responsibilities that rely on this skills are shown by this resume excerpt: "lawyers need to be able to find those laws and regulations which apply to a specific matter, in order to provide the appropriate legal advice for their clients." This resume example shows how this skill is used by legal externs: "conducted legal research on international human rights jurisprudence and explored strategies on incorporating international standards and jurisprudence into domestic litigation"
  • Another common skill for a legal extern to be able to utilize is "speaking skills." Lawyers must be able to clearly present and explain their case to arbitrators, mediators, opposing parties, judges, or juries, because they are speaking on behalf of their clients. A legal extern demonstrated the need for this skill by putting this on their resume: "presented oral arguments to litigation team regarding inverse condemnation and the cpuc's executive jurisdiction. "
  • While "writing skills" is listed last on this skills list, don't underestimate its importance to legal extern responsibilities. The skill is described by this resume snippet, "lawyers need to be precise and specific when preparing documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney." Here is an example of how this skill is used, "provided litigation support for prosecution of tax evasion trial in u.s. district court skills used legal analysis, writing, editing"
  • See the full list of legal extern skills.

    Before becoming a legal extern, 68.1% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 6.4% legal externs went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be impossible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most legal externs have a college degree. But about one out of every nine legal externs didn't attend college at all.

    Those legal externs who do attend college, typically earn either law degrees or political science degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for legal externs include criminal justice degrees or business degrees.

    Once you're ready to become a legal extern, you should explore the companies that typically hire legal externs. According to legal extern resumes that we searched through, legal externs are hired the most by Oracle, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra), and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation. Currently, Oracle has 49 legal extern job openings, while there are 16 at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra) and 11 at American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

    If you're interested in companies where legal externs make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Jones Day, eBay, and AbbVie. We found that at Jones Day, the average legal extern salary is $184,968. Whereas at eBay, legal externs earn roughly $143,061. And at AbbVie, they make an average salary of $142,767.

    View more details on legal extern salaries across the United States.

    If you earned a degree from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, you might want to take a look at Law Office, Private Practice, and U.S. District Court. These three companies have hired a significant number of legal externs from these institutions.

    In general, legal externs fulfill roles in the technology and non profits industries. While employment numbers are high in those industries, the legal extern annual salary is the highest in the professional industry with $69,693 as the average salary. Meanwhile, the finance and government industries pay $69,310 and $65,865 respectively. This means that legal externs who are employed in the professional industry make 56.2% more than legal externs who work in the non profits Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious legal externs are:

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    What Housing Counselors Do

    A Housing Counselor works directly with clients and organizations to support moderate and low-income clients in overcoming barriers to housing and financial stability. They represent the homeowner in interventions and/or mediation proceedings with the mortgage servicer, lender, and/or other stakeholders.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take housing counselor for example. On average, the housing counselors annual salary is $31,492 higher than what legal externs make on average every year.

    While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both legal externs and housing counselors positions are skilled in litigation, legal issues, and intellectual property.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a legal extern responsibility requires skills such as "legal intern," "legal memos," "pre-trial motions," and "powerpoint." Whereas a housing counselor is skilled in "in-house counsel," "social work," "regulatory compliance," and "crisis intervention." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Housing counselors really shine in the manufacturing industry with an average salary of $91,338. Whereas legal externs tend to make the most money in the professional industry with an average salary of $69,693.

    Housing counselors tend to reach similar levels of education than legal externs. In fact, housing counselors are 2.3% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 8.5% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of an Attorney At Law?

    An Attorney at Law is responsible for preparing and examining contracts involving leases, licenses, purchases, sales, etc. They advise clients concerning business transactions, claim liability, or legal rights and obligations.

    Now we're going to look at the attorney at law profession. On average, attorneys at law earn a $60,780 higher salary than legal externs a year.

    While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both legal externs and attorneys at law are known to have skills such as "litigation," "legal issues," and "intellectual property. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that legal extern responsibilities requires skills like "legal intern," "legal memos," "pre-trial motions," and "real estate." But an attorney at law might use skills, such as, "real estate transactions," "trial preparation," "criminal defense," and "labor law."

    It's been discovered that attorneys at law earn higher salaries compared to legal externs, but we wanted to find out where attorneys at law earned the most pay. The answer? The retail industry. The average salary in the industry is $120,546. Additionally, legal externs earn the highest paychecks in the professional with an average salary of $69,693.

    When it comes to the differences in education between the two professions, attorneys at law tend to reach similar levels of education than legal externs. In fact, they're 0.2% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 8.5% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a District Attorney Compares

    District attorneys represent the government in court and prepare criminal prosecution cases. Besides partnering on criminal investigations and evaluating police reports, district attorneys also consult with alleged perpetrators, law enforcement, and judges. They uphold professional ethics, abide by the country's prosecution laws, and supervise and guide legal clerks and associates. Moreover, district attorneys prepare and file pre-trial motions, study case law, and gather enough evidence needed to prosecute alleged perpetrators in the court. Also, they assess legal merits to bring criminal charges against the alleged perpetrators.

    Let's now take a look at the district attorney profession. On average, these workers make higher salaries than legal externs with a $25,727 difference per year.

    Using legal externs and district attorneys resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "legal intern," "legal issues," and "pre-trial motions," but the other skills required are very different.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a legal extern is likely to be skilled in "litigation," "legal memos," "intellectual property," and "real estate," while a typical district attorney is skilled in "pre-trial conferences," "law enforcement agencies," "felony cases," and "misdemeanor cases."

    Additionally, district attorneys earn a higher salary in the professional industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $79,101. Additionally, legal externs earn an average salary of $69,693 in the professional industry.

    District attorneys typically study at similar levels compared with legal externs. For example, they're 0.4% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 11.4% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of an Attorney

    Generally, an attorney's responsibility is to advise the client with an ongoing lawsuit on the legal procedures and provide strategies to resolve the case as early as possible. An attorney compiles necessary documents or any records for appeal and client's defense. Attorneys must acquire strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to mediate disputes and settle pending litigation for the client's best interest. In some cases, an attorney's procedure depends on any evidence and research presented during the trial period. An attorney is expected to present clients on legal proceedings, seeking justice and justifying the law.

    Now, we'll look at attorneys, who generally average a higher pay when compared to legal externs annual salary. In fact, the difference is about $62,238 per year.

    According to resumes from both legal externs and attorneys, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "litigation," "legal issues," and "intellectual property. "

    Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, a legal extern might have more use for skills like "legal intern," "legal memos," "pre-trial motions," and "real estate." Meanwhile, some attorneys might include skills like "appeals," "trial preparation," "real estate transactions," and "law practice" on their resume.

    In general, attorneys reach similar levels of education when compared to legal externs resumes. Attorneys are 1.1% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 29.2% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Legal Extern Does FAQs

    Do You Get Paid As An Extern?

    No, you do not get paid as an extern. Externships are typically free and unpaid work experience to help a person better understand the requirements of a potential career path.

    The simplest definition of an externship is a job shadow of an individual, typically a respected professional within an industry or workplace that a student is interested in pursuing.

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