The virtual work environment has changed with law firm internships now differing following the pandemic-related changes with law firms offering virtual law firm internships for undergraduates and JD students.
The situation with law firm internships is seeing virtual internships, often provided via an online platform called Forage, previously called InsideSherpa, which provides the virtual interns with a simulated work experience that permits the law firm potential employer to also assess who might suit the firm for future employment.
Eight BigLaw firms are now offering the service according to a Reuters report.
White & Case is the latest law firm to expand its Forage program, this month launching a new track that lets law students find out what it is like working for the firm as a first-year IP associate. puts law students in the shoes of a first-year IP associate.
White & Case in 2019 became the first U.S. law firm to use Forage said co-founder and chief executive officer Thomas Brunskill.
And thousands of prospective lawyers are flocking to the virtual internship offering with Latham & Watkins saying they have had 40,000 people participating so far. They have offered the law firm internship programs since 2019 and so the popularity of the program is obvious.
The Virtual Law Firm World
Law student obviously love the idea of stepping into the virtual world of the law firm to assess whether it is for them – and for the law firms to also assess whether they are for them.
The platform is also used in other industries. For instance, JPMorgan Chase, who hire 1000 entry level employees each year in their tech division use the internships to locate talent to compete against major tech companies like Amazon and Google.
Originally started as a ‘mentoring marketplace’ for students and others, Forage has changed dramatically into its virtual internship world.
It is focused on partnering with large companies and major law firms and others that employ upwards of 1,000 students per year via internships to help open up new pipelines. The corporate partners pay a subscription fee per year to post courses, and students can access all courses for free.
Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Hogan Lovells, Baker McKenzie, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are BigLaw firms that also offer internships through the program as well as a further 24 law firms outside the United States. Latham’s offerings include programs on antitrust and competition and emerging companies.
Online training program participants complete real-world legal tasks in specific practice areas and receive feedback, while getting an idea of day-to-day life at the law firm sponsor. The programs are self-paced and generally take between three to seven hours to complete.
White & Case’s new IP program revolves around a fictional biomedical startup that has been sued for infringement. Participants must complete five specific tasks including drafting a client email and a memo to a partner.
New Relationships Via Virtual Internships
These virtual internships and digital training programs can establish an early relationship between a college or law student and a particular law firm, said James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement. Research has shown that students make career decisions earlier than many people imagine, and creating an early pipeline is particularly helpful in reaching minority and first-generation college students, he said.
“Even in law school, students have a hard time distinguishing between law firms, so developing this sort of brand awareness, and maybe even brand loyalty, early in the arc of their legal education is likely to reap benefits further down the line,” Leipold said.
The ability for law firms to entice potential star lawyers – or any lawyers – into BigLaw has found a brand new and exciting way to develop their law firm recruitment programs using the virtual internship program provided by the Forage platform.