Student Proposed Internships FAQ
* These FAQs all relate to the Student-Proposed Internship Program. To simplify the text, Student-Proposed Internships are simply referred to as “internship”.
What is a Student-Proposed Internship?
The Student-Proposed Internship Program offers you an opportunity to gain hands on experience in a practical setting and to explore different legal fields and work environments. These internships may be completed during the summer, fall, January or winter term after first year. Internships may be undertaken abroad during the summer and the January term.
Where can I do an internship?
Be creative! This is your opportunity to work in a law-related field that is of interest to you. You can work in a non profit or non-governmental organization, an international organization, a small to medium sized firm, or with a sole practitioner, to name a few. There are many possibilities out there; however the work must be of legal nature and under the direct supervision of a lawyer.
I know I want to do an internship, but I don’t know who to approach or where to start looking?
Network, network, network and use your imagination! Do you know a lawyer? Do your parents or friends know a lawyer? Look in the yellow pages, conduct a Google search, do some research and you will eventually find an organization or firm that will interest you. Call them or email them and explain the program to them. Not many people will refuse volunteer work offered by an eager law student. The experience is mutually beneficial, to both you the student and the organization or firm you will intern with.
Who is your supervisor?
The supervisor is either a practicing lawyer or someone who has received legal training (holds a J.D. or an LL.B.) who works at the organization or the firm in which you will be completing your internship and who is responsible for supervising your work.
What does a completed application package look like?
Before starting your internship, it must be approved by the Professional Development Counsellor. You must submit an application package which consists of these four (4) documents:
- The Internship Proposal Form – signed by you and your supervisor; as an alternative, your supervisor may send you an email approving your proposal;
- The Student-Proposed Internship Registration Form – signed by you only;
- The Work Placement Agreement Form (also called the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Coverage or “WSIB” form) (for insurance coverage purposes) – signed by you and your supervisor;
- The Modification of Registration Form (the “Add/drop” Form) – signed by you only.
Remember! If a signature is missing or if your application package is incomplete, your internship will not be approved. Your application will only be processed for approval once it is complete, therefore make sure that the forms are properly filled out and signed before submitting them to the Student Services office (FTX 233). You will not be registered in the internship course (therefore it will not appear on Rabaska) until you submit your complete application package including all of the signed and completed forms.
If I do not give a title to my internship, what will appear on my transcript?
The course code and title will appear on your transcript.
What should I include in my Internship Proposal Form?
The Internship Proposal Form is self-explanatory but you must provide the objectives of the internship, the skills you plan to develop and the tasks you will be accomplishing in order to develop the skills you wish to hone. If you are still unsure of the tasks you will be completing after having spoken with your supervisor, elaborate on what the organization or firm does (areas of practice) as well as provide an outline as mentioned above. The Internship Proposal Form must be signed by you and your supervisor.
Students can complete a number of law related tasks such as legal research, legal drafting (such as memoranda, notes to file, etc.), observe lawyers litigate in court or during mediations and negotiations, meet with clients, to name a few. However, students may not give legal advice or legal opinions as they are not yet called to the bar.
Remember! This is the only written work (besides the mid-term and final reports) that you will have to submit in order to gain 3 academic credits. Therefore, you must approach these documents with the same level of professionalism and seriousness as when preparing and submitting a class assignment or term paper. Pay attention to detail and make sure that the final copy is professional-looking and neat. The Professional Development Counsellor may request modifications in order to improve your reports if she/he is not satisfied with the quality of your work.
What is the purpose of the Work Placement Agreement Form (also called the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Coverage or “WSIB” form)? My supervisor wants to know what they are signing on to. Do I have to fill the WSIB form even if my internship will take place outside of Ontario?
If your internship will take place within Ontario, check off the box in Section C (ignore Section D).
If your internship will take place outside Ontario, check off the box in Section D (ignore Section C).
You can reassure your supervisor, organization or firm that by filling in and signing the form, the organization or firm is agreeing with the fact that the WSIB coverage will be provided to you by the Ministry of Education of Ontario, for the entire period of your internship because you are a student registered in an Ontario institution. In other words, your organization or firm is not responsible for providing insurance coverage for you and the organization or firm will not be held liable if you get injured in the work place.
Remember! You, your supervisor and the Professional Development Counsellor must sign this form. You cannot begin accumulating hours that will count towards your 125 internship hours before submitting a signed copy of the WSIB form – this is a University of Ottawa policy. You and/or your supervisor can submit the documents in person (in FTX 233) or send them to the Student Services Program Officer by fax or by email.
What should I include in my mid-term and final reports?
The purpose of the reports is to ensure that you receive feedback on your performance from your supervisor, to assist the Faculty in assigning a final grade, and to ensure that you are being asked to do pedagogically meaningful legal work.
Your mid-term and final reports are each three pages in length minimum (double-spaced) and should consist of an elaboration on the tasks you accomplished thus far during the internship and how they tie into the objectives you had set out for yourself in your proposal. Did you reach your goals and objectives? Explain in detail the work that you accomplished, how you accomplished it and what you got out of it personally and professionally. What skills did you develop? Did you develop any new skills? A self-assessment of your performance must be included in the final portion of each report. The final report cannot simply be a copy and paste of your mid-term report. It is your responsibility to draft these reports but your supervisor must read them and is free to request changes to them. You and your supervisor are required to sign both reports.
The reports must be submitted by the deadline, which is indicated on the Student-Proposed Internship web page.NB: January term or summer internships lasting 4 weeks or less - you are required to submit a 6-page final report at the end of your internship, rather than submit a 3-page mid-term report and a 3-page final report.
Remember! This is the only written work (besides your initial proposal) that you will have to submit in order to gain 3 academic credits. Therefore, you must approach these reports with the same level of professionalism and seriousness as when preparing and submitting a class assignment or term paper. Pay attention to detail; for example, do not type “Mid-term Report” for the title of your final report (this is evidence of copying and pasting). The Professional Development Counsellor may request modifications in order to improve your reports if she/he is not satisfied with the quality of your work.
When do I submit the Evaluation Form?
You must submit a completed Evaluation Form with your final report. Your supervisor must complete the Form, and you both have to sign and date the Form.
How should I proceed if I want to ask for an extension in submitting my mid-term or final reports? What happens if I submit them late, past the deadline?
In order to be granted an extension, you must ask permission to either the Professional Development Counsellor who is responsible for the internship program or the Manager of Equity and Academic Success. Please click here to find out who you should be speaking to depending on your circumstance.
Remember! If you do not ask permission and/or do not receive the extension but still submit the reports late, you will automatically receive a grade of “Non-Satisfactory”.
Does having prepared a thorough memorandum or report within the work I completed during my internship preclude me from having to submit a mid-term and a final report?
No, this does not preclude you from having to submit your reports, regardless of the work you accomplished during the internship. Whether you prepared a thorough document such as a memorandum, a research paper or a report for your supervisor, you are required to submit to the Student Services Program Officer a 3-page (minimum) double-spaced mid-term report and a 3-page (minimum) double-spaced final report. The Student Services office cannot assess the type of work you accomplished without these reports and the reports provide a fair grading system in which all students are evaluated on equal grounds. Furthermore, your self-assessment portion of the report is an important part of your own learning process.
What kind of a grade will I receive at the end of the internship? Who will grade my work?
The internship is graded on a “Satisfactory/Non-Satisfactory” basis. Therefore “Satisfactory” is one of two options and there are no options that go above and beyond “Satisfactory”. You cannot receive a letter grade for your internship.
Your grade is determined at the faculty (not by your supervisor), based on the content of your proposal along with your two reports, the nature of your work accomplished, and the fact that you have completed 125 hours of supervised unpaid work.
“To avoid possible conflicts of interest, internships cannot be undertaken under the supervision of a student’s past, present or future employers”? What exactly does this statement mean? What if they hire me once I’ve started or once I have completed my internship?
This means that you cannot do an internship with an organization or firm that has already offered you full-time or part-time work, a summer position or an articling position prior to you applying for the internship. If you have accepted a job offer from an organization or firm to work part-time during the academic year, or as a summer student or an articling student, you cannot complete your internship there. The rationale for not allowing you to do an internship in a work place where you already have a job lined up is to encourage you to gain as much practical law-related experience as possible in a variety of different work settings. In addition, students cannot receive credit for paid work.
An exception may be granted if the student intends to intern in a different department or with a different supervisor and will thus develop skills different from his past, present or future employment or volunteer experience. Please contact Student Services if this is your situation.
However, if the organization or firm you are interning at offers you a job during your internship or after you have completed your internship, that’s wonderful! This is what we support and it is one of the internship program’s objectives. Students have the opportunity to meet and work alongside lawyers and professionals within the legal community and make connections that may assist them to secure a summer job or articling position.
How many internships am I allowed to complete during law school (Student-Proposed or School-Sponsored)? Is there a maximum number of courses I can take throughout my law degree that are graded on the basis of Satisfactory/Non-Satisfactory (pass/fail)?
Currently, students are permitted to undertake two (2) Student-Proposed Internships in total. Generally speaking, we encourage students to take no more than 3 S/NS courses throughout their law degree (this may include a Student-Proposed Internship or a School-Sponsored Internship). If a student has too many S/NS courses and not enough courses with letter grades, it makes it difficult for future employers to evaluate the student’s academic strength. You will want to have a sufficient amount of letter grades on your transcript to enable employers to evaluate your candidacy in applying for a summer job or an articling position. However on the other hand, it is advantageous to have internships or S/NS courses listed on your transcript as it may help strike up a conversation with future employers during an interview. Employers might ask you to explain what these courses entailed which would give you the opportunity to elaborate on your internship experience and how it has benefited you and the invaluable contribution it made to your academic development.
If you are a second or third year student and you already have an articling position secured once you graduate, then the 3 S/NS course recommendation is less strict. Your transcript may not be scrutinized as closely anymore; therefore you can afford to accumulate another S/NS course. However, if you do not have an articling job secured yet, it is recommended that you do not take more than 3 S/NS courses as mentioned above.
Am I guaranteed that my second internship will be approved?
No, there is no guarantee that your second internship will be approved. The second internship will only be approved if you show that you will be learning new skills and competencies in your second internship compared to your first one. This must be clearly indicated in your Internship Proposal Form.
Can I complete more than one internship at the same work place?
Students are encouraged to diversify their experiences and therefore complete internships in different organizations or law firms in order to learn different areas of the law, to obtain constructive feedback from various professionals, and to experience working in new work environments.
I am short 1 or 2 credits to graduate. Can I do an internship for only 2 credits or for 4 credits rather than for 3 credits?
It is not possible for you to complete an internship for only 2 credits or 4 credits. The requirement of 125 hours of unpaid law-related work in order to receive 3 credits. There is no flexibility to do a 2 credit or 4 credit internship.
Can a family member act as my supervisor during my internship? Can I work with a family member in his or her law firm, for instance?
No, students are not permitted to have a family member act as their supervisor or work with a family member in his or her law firm. If exceptional circumstances exist, these questions will be referred to the Assistant Dean of Student Services for a determination.
Can I do an internship abroad?
Yes, during the summer and the January term. You are responsible for meeting any necessary requirements to comply with any relevant labour laws or visa requirements, and for covering any travel-related expenses.
What if I want to do an internship in the United States? Do I need a visa?
If you choose to do an internship in the U.S. you may need a visa. It is your responsibility to determine and obtain any visa you may need. For further information, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade website.
If I do an internship in the summer, how will my credits be awarded?
The credits you accumulate while doing an internship during the summer are applied in either the fall term immediately following the summer or the winter term of that academic year. The credits cannot be allotted to the January term – you must actually undertake your internship during the January term in order for the credits to count towards your January term.
How many internships am I allowed to complete during the summer months?
Students are allowed to do two separate internships for 3 credits each over the summer.
I am a student in the Common Law Program. Does my internship have to be in a Common Law jurisdiction?
No, not necessarily: students may do an internship in either a Common Law jurisdiction or a Civil Law jurisdiction.
If I am a student enrolled in the French Common Law Program, do I have to do an internship in French?
It depends on how many English courses you have taken so far. As a student enrolled in the French Common Law Program, you can only take 25% of your courses in English and the rest of your courses must be in French. If you haven’t taken any English courses yet, you may do an internship in English. Often internships will be conducted in both official languages. In order to be considered an internship for French credits, more than 50% of the work must be done in French while the correspondence and written documents must also be in French.
If I am a student enrolled in the National Program, can I complete my internship in a Civil Law jurisdiction or does it have to be a Common Law jurisdiction?
Students in the National Program must undertake an internship in a Common Law jurisdiction. As indicated on the National Program website, National Program students are not permitted to enroll in Student-Proposed Internships and School-Sponsored Internships, except where, in the opinion of the Director of the National Program and the Professional Development Counsellor, the student can provide evidence that Common Law content exists in the internship. The concern is not so much the geographical jurisdiction, but the substance of the internship. For instance, an internship in Quebec or in a Civil Law country would be acceptable if the internship consists of Common Law content (for example, an internship at the Canada Revenue Agency or an internship in Cameroon, Africa).
The website indicates that the internship must be non remunerated work. If the organization or firm that I will work for has offered me a stipend for travel expenses, is this acceptable?
The Faculty will allow students to receive a stipend from their host organization or firm so long as it is not a salary and that it only covers costs that would not normally be incurred by a student (due to distance, for instance). Also, the stipend must be reasonably tied to the internship, ie: you are receiving the amount of money to help pay for your plane ticket or living expenses while living in the city/country you will be living in for the duration of the internship. Make sure to let the Professional Development Counsellor know in writing (an email will suffice) declaring the amount that you will be receiving and copy your supervisor on the email.
Can I do an internship if I am a part-time student or do I have to be registered as a full-time student to be able to do an internship?
Yes, you can complete an internship if you are a part-time student; you do not have to be registered as a full-time student in order to do an internship.
Do I have to be in good standing in order to apply for an internship?
I am thinking of dropping out of my internship. How should I proceed?
If you are considering dropping out of your a Student-Proposed Internship, you are required to discuss the situation with Student Services and/or Academic affairs prior to taking this action.