Company: DLA Piper LLP
Innovation: The DLA Piper Undergraduate Internship Program
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention

DLA Piper’s diversity and inclusion strategy includes a focus on diversity pipeline development. Programs in this area work to identify, mentor, and develop diverse students who aspire to careers in the law. Among them is the Undergraduate Internship Program (UIP).

Launched in 2009, the UIP targets underrepresented undergraduate students with academic success and a demonstrated interest in going to law school. The program is unique because it provides an internship experience that gives students an early and broad view of what it is like to work in a large law firm and it encourages them to start developing professional networks.

UIP candidates are selected through a competitive application process that includes comprehensive phone and in-person interviews. They are required to submit their transcript, a letter of interest, and a letter of reference to be considered. Successful candidates join the firm for six weeks and are immersed in various projects with both lawyers and staff in a broad range of practice areas and departments, respectively. The UIP is managed by a team of staff members who work to coordinate the participants’ schedules. At the end of the session, the interns deliver a presentation on the functions and synergies of the various departments and people with whom they worked.

The results of the UIP have been very favorable. Since the program’s inception in 2009:

• 30 percent of alumni are currently in law school;
• 30 percent of alumni are currently preparing for and/or applying to law school;
• 50 percent of the 2012 participants are preparing for the LSAT; and
• One member from the first class has just graduated from law school

The anecdotal feedback has also been very good. A 2012 intern stated that, “If being a lawyer is anything like we anticipate after completing the program, then I’ve definitely picked the right profession.” Another concluded, “In terms of my internship and job experience, this summer has really been the most beneficial in terms of networking and deciding whether or not a career in law is for me.”

Long after their internship with DLA Piper, they continue to communicate with the UIP alumni, offering support, guidance, and networking opportunities along their educational and professional journeys. They also invite the alumni to come back and speak with the current UIP class.