All students in the legal studies program are required to complete an internship, which consists of an internship course (LS 5389) along with 135 hours of paralegal work under the direction of an attorney. The internship is typically done toward the end of the program, either in the student’s final or second-to-last semester. Before enrolling in the internship course, the student must have completed at least four of the following five required courses with a grade of “B” or better:
LS 5310 (Introduction to the Paralegal Profession and Legal Technology)
LS 5320 (Legal Research)
LS 5330 (Legal Theories)
LS 5340 (Litigation)
LS 5350 (Legal Drafting)
Prior to registering for the internship course, please contact the program director for assistance in securing an internship and approval to register for the course. This must be done no later than two months prior to the start of the semester in which the student plans to complete the internship.
The internship class has several objectives:
1. to give students the opportunity to apply their formal education to actual work situations;
2. to make students familiar with ethical rules, including the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, ABA Model Rules, Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistants, ethical standards promulgated by NALA and NFPA, and the issues and current case law in this area applicable to paralegals;
3. to introduce students to the history, present status, and possible future of the paralegal profession;
4. to make students aware of the various professional organizations available to you as a paralegal and the role these organizations play;
5. to develop students’ understanding and appreciation for the role that paralegals play in the legal environment, including law office technology, billing practices, firm hierarchy, firm philosophies, and compensation; and
6. to prepare students for a successful job search through resume and interview workshops.
The student will work as an intern in a legal working environment approved by the legal studies program director and perform the tasks delegated by the internship sponsor. The intern is required to spend a minimum of 90 hours working in the approved legal environment performing "paralegal" functions, such as legal research, client interviews, fact investigations, document drafting, and other non-clerical duties (the standard for law firms is "billable"). Traditionally, the intern is not paid; however, the sponsor may elect to pay the intern.
In addition to the above 90 hours, the intern must complete one of the following with the approval of the program director:
1. an additional 45 hours with the internship sponsor (for a total of 135 hours);
2. a research paper of approximately 20 pages in length.
If you plan to meet your internship requirement at your current job, please keep in mind that you will have to identify a "special project" to be completed during the internship. This project can be in the nature of a special research project, assistance on an important trial, etc. and must be approved by the program director. The intern is also required to complete daily logs describing the tasks performed and any personal observations and turn them in at the end of the semester. The intern must also prepare a one to two page summary of the daily logs and turn it in by the same deadline.
Please remember that you are representing our university and the legal studies program. You must do so in a professional manner (including appropriate business attire) and practice the highest ethical standards. If you should encounter any difficulties or concerns, please contact the program director immediately.
Because the focus of the internship course is the working internship itself, the class only meets five (5) times during the semester. However, the material discussed in class meetings is an essential part of the internship course. Therefore, class attendance is mandatory, as is preparation for class by completing the reading assignments designated for each class, and class participation is expected.
Each student will complete a law office technology and a paralegal ethics exercise during their internship semester.