In the late 1980s, the Atlanta Bar Association desired to become more involved in the lives of Atlanta’s youth. Because D.M. Therrell High School of the Atlanta Public School System has a law and government magnet center, it was a natural fit for the Atlanta Bar Association and Therrell to partner together.
Beginning in 1993 and continuing to this day, the Atlanta Bar Association has sponsored a paid summer law internship program during which students from Therrell, as well as other area high schools, work for six weeks each summer for area law firms, law departments, public interest groups and courts. For most interns, this is the first job they have ever had. Over three hundred fifty (350) such paid internships have been made available during the sixteen years of our intern program. While the vast majority of the interns have come from Therrell, interns have also come from the Atlanta International School, Banneker, Cedar Grove, Centennial, Chamblee, Crim, Decatur, Douglass, Druid Hills, Eagles Landing Christian Academy, Grady, Mundy’s Mill, North Atlanta, Paideia, Pebblebrook, Riverdale, Riverwood, Shiloh, St. Pius and Southwest DeKalb. Literally hundreds of lawyers have served as mentors and supervisors of the intern program.
The Atlanta Bar Association designed the Summer Law Internship Program to achieve three goals:
· to provide a valuable work experience;
· to further the student’s understanding of the law; and
· to provide a mentor relationship for the students.
Interns perform numerous duties for their employers including copying, summarizing depositions, making deliveries, bates stamping documents, answering phones, and assembling trial notebooks. It is our hope that each intern will be able to attend a deposition or Court hearing. Prior to beginning their internships, the interns are put through intensive, mandatory orientations. These orientations prepare the students for what is expected of them and twhat they can expect. The orientations focus on issues such as confidentiality, professionalism, punctuality, attention to detail, and appearance.
The Atlanta Bar Association is proud of the impact the Summer Law Internship Program has had on its participants. Six of our former interns are now lawyers and every single one of them participates in our Summer Law Internship Program by either serving on the coordinating committee or helping conduct programs for the current interns. More interns are in the pipeline to become lawyers. Numerous other interns have gone on to become paralegals, administrative assistants and computer personnel in the legal community.