Career Building: Law School Clinics are a Great Way to Start Building Your Professional Network Early

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

pughA law school clinic is a great way for law students to network and make important connections in the legal profession. In today’s legal market, one of the big challenges for law students is getting enough work experience before they graduate. Students with work experience in their chosen area of practice will have an advantage in their job searches. But sometimes finding the right internship can prove difficult for students if they do not have a network of legal professionals to guide them, and most law students do not begin law school with such a network already in place. In addition to providing real-world work experience itself, my work with Georgia State Law’s Investor Advocacy Clinic gave me a great start on my own professional network, which led to a summer internship job that expanded my network further while providing me with invaluable work experience.

This summer, I worked as an intern for a law firm that represents plaintiffs in securities fraud cases. My summer internship gave me great work experience as third chair during an eight day FINRA arbitration hearing. During the hearing, I managed witness appearances, took copious notes, and discussed legal strategy with the two partners throughout the proceedings. Participating in a real-life adversarial process is enlightening for a law student because it is helpful to see how the different areas of law studies operate together. The attorneys from each side argued about the application of state law in arbitration, certain FINRA rules, and other relevant points of law. This experience expanded my knowledge of the adversarial system and allowed me to grow professionally.

My summer internship opportunity came to me through my network of legal professionals in the Investor Advocacy Clinic. The law firm’s senior partner contacted the clinic looking for an intern to assist during the FINRA hearing in Atlanta, and I was fortunate enough to land the job. During the internship, I meet several local attorneys who gave me advice on how I could make connections with other attorneys working in securities law.

In sum, all law students should consider joining a law school clinic because it is a great way to build a professional network, gain work experience with real clients, and it could lead to job opportunities that you never knew existed.