Internships for Pre-Law English Majors

The English major at The University of Alabama often attracts pre-law students, and there are many internships available exclusively for this field. Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Serena Blount, believes that these internships open a myriad of opportunities beyond working solely with judges and attorneys. The internships are tailored for students to gain insights into the legal profession, with those at law firms participating in client meetings and engaging in legal research practices. Notably, interns working with judges get hands-on experience assisting citizens, such as helping to navigate requirements for driver’s license recovery. 

Dr. Blount explains the history of this program: “The department has had internship opportunities for years. However, completing an internship for credit hours toward the English major or the new Digital, Public, and Professional Writing minor is a recent addition.” The expansion has led to a surge in participation, with 23 students completing internships last semester. Dr. Blount is anticipating this number to climb in the coming semester.

The internship’s aim is to showcase the versatility of an English degree in professional settings. Dr. Blount expresses hope that students recognize “how well a degree in English prepares students for professional careers,” emphasizing the importance of reciprocal relationships and civic engagement. When asked about the role of English skills in these positions, Dr. Blount emphasizes, “Legal internships involve research, critical thinking, textual analysis, composition, editing/revision work, and related skills. As one attorney said to me—’Give me your best writers. Ninety percent of what we do is writing.'” Intern duties vary based on their placement. Those in the public defender’s office might conduct client interviews, summarize findings from body cam footage, or delve into social media research to aid in case narratives. Another internship, situated at a state legislator’s law firm, offers a unique blend of legislative duties alongside traditional legal work. 

Challenges for the students in the program include competitiveness and student initiation. Dr. Blount mentions, “The internships are competitive, often with partner organizations selecting only one student after multiple interviews. This program draws interest from pre-law students outside of the English major.” Additionally, the largely student-initiated process requires responsible communication and proposal writing.

According to Dr. Blount, the most rewarding aspect for students lies in participating in community-engaged learning experiences that broaden their perspectives on Tuscaloosa and its citizens: “while also, I hope, entertaining what type of legal career they may wish to pursue and becoming familiar and comfortable with basic protocols and duties that pertain to such a career.” 

–Amanda Snyder