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Unpaid Legal Internships Are Up, Paying Jobs Are Down

The New York Times looks at how employers are hot to offer unpaid internships to law students, but full time job offers are harder to come by.

Internship Is Secured, but a Seat? That’s Tricky
By SIMON AKAM

Susan Cho’s internship at the Kings County district attorney’s office this summer has presented some different challenges than her previous stint working alongside prosecutors in Rochester. “There’s sometimes trouble finding a seat,” Ms. Cho, 26, who is soon to be a second-year student at Villanova University School of Law, said of her spell at 350 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

Last summer, 135 law students toiled as unpaid interns with the Brooklyn district attorney. This year there are 195 — a number that Carol L. Moran, the director of legal hiring, believes is a record.

The bumper crop of interns, whose placements end July 31, is the result of an increase in both applications and the percentage of students who accepted offers, most likely a fallout of the recession, as many corporate law firms have cut back on their summer programs. In addition to the intensified competition to score a full-time — and paid — job after graduation, the intern glut has put a premium on office chairs, desk space and meaty assignments.

“It’s much harder for them to find stuff for us to do,” said one intern who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of alienating his bosses. “Definitely some people feel they haven’t done anything.”


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