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by Vault Law Editors | March 18, 2006

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While in-house counsel positions are typically reserved for experienced lawyers with several years of law firm practice behind them, many companies are offering law students a head start. According to the latest issue of Diversity & the Bar, a magazine published by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, some major corporations—including GE, Microsoft, Prudential and Verizon Wireless—are expanding their summer internship programs to target first-year law students.

The internship is not just a summer job; it’s also an opportunity to build networks that can shape the rest of your career. As Barrington Lopez, general counsel of Verizon Wireless’ Midwest division, explained to D&B, “The students gain the value of the internship, and the company helps establish future talent that will consider us an employer of choice.” In addition, he adds, “we want to make sure we’re doing our part to ensure that there are diverse and women attorneys among the candidates for our future openings.” At Microsoft, interns “become part of an extended family,” according to Sandy Brown, who manages the legal intern program at the software giant’s Redmond home. According to the article, Brown “has a network of close to thirty former Microsoft interns that she follows and reaches out to as they develop in their careers.”

These programs offer students valuable legal experience, opportunities to find mentors and establish long-term relationships, and practical career advice. But the benefits run both ways. In the words of Susan Blount, Prudential’s general counsel, “There are two things that we get out of hosting interns. Our employees really enjoy doing this; they get a morale boost. And we make a positive impact on the profession from a diversity standpoint.”

- posted by vera

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