The Law School’s Centre for American Legal Studies operates the UK’s largest student internship programme to the USA. The programme was established in 1994 and to date we have placed over 500 students in Federal and State Public Defender offices, private attorney offices, American University Law Schools, law projects and organisations across the USA, from New York City to West Texas and San Francisco.
Undergraduate placements last for between six and eight weeks, and count as a fully accredited part of the LLB degree.
Tom Nicklin, LLM Professional Law student
Ellie Stokes, LLM Professional Law student
Successful applicants work with attorneys who represent indigent clients – those who cannot afford to pay for legal representation and are reliant on free help. The majority of internships are in offices engaged in Death Row work, although some deal with general criminal matters or civil litigation.
Students have the opportunity to receive academic credit for their internship. Every year our students are commended for their hard working attitude and excellent practical skills, and the Law School is proud not only of them but also the programme’s ability to unleash this potential.
The internship programme provides a unique opportunity for students to excel as academics and potential practitioners, by providing an environment where they can put their legal knowledge into practice and simultaneously experience the dynamics of real life in the legal profession. It is a priceless addition to any CV.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can participate in this scheme?
Undergraduate students will be able to apply for an internship after the first year of their studies. The opportunity will count as a fully accredited part of their LLB degree.
At graduate level, students taking the Graduate Diploma in Law / Common Professional Examination (GDL/CPE) law conversion course have the opportunity to take part in the scheme in the summer following completion of the GDL/CPE.
When will I take part in the Programme?
Undergraduate students usually undertake the Programme in the summer between the second or third year of their degree.
If I am successful, how do I prepare for the internship?
Before leaving for the USA, you will undertake an intensive course which includes classes on capital punishment, criminal justice reform and American legal research and drafting. You will also receive basic advice about costs, visas, travel requirements and accommodation.
How much will it cost?
You have to self-finance your internships. Depending upon which state you work in, it can cost £3,000-£5,000 for an average eight-week internship.
What work will I be involved in?
All of our students provide their services pro bono. Students help attorneys who represent indigent clients – those who cannot afford to pay for an attorney but who are reliant on free help. Work includes interviewing clients in prison, tracing and interviewing witnesses, analysing reports and evidence, researching law and procedure, drafting briefs and motions, and attending and assisting at trials and hearings.
What will I get out of it?
Like the Legal Advice & Representation Unit, which is also a resource at the University, the American Legal Practice scheme provides invaluable practical experience of legal practice that is extremely attractive to potential employers. Additionally, you are helping real clients in important cases.
Where do our students go?
Students have travelled all across the United States of America as part of the American Internship Programme. Below are just a few examples of the cities they have visited.