Students Share Public Interest Summer Experiences

By Law Weekly Staff

The Law Weekly interviewed members of the classes of 2019 and 2020 about their summers. Last week, the paper ran interviews with students who worked for firms. This week, students who worked for government, judges, or non-profits were interviewed.

What drew you to that geographic location and/or employer?

E.D.N.Y. Judicial Internship ’20: I wanted to go to New York because I have family and friends there, and because I just love the city. 

D.C. Government ’19: The opportunity to participate in high-level legal and policy discussions in the federal government (specifically, the Department of Defense). 

D.C. DOJ ’19: I'm focused on doing public service environmental law work, a lot of which happens in D.C. 

Nashville USAO ’20: Hometown and interest in government. 

Phoenix Air Force ’19: Tuition scholarship requirements. 

Alaska State Public Defender ’19: The Alaska State Public Defender allows students with a 3L practice certificate to represent clients in court, including trials.


What type of work did you do? Were you able to become involved with pro bono work? If you had a favorite matter (billable or pro bono!), can you describe it at all?


E.D.N.Y. Judicial Internship ’20: I wrote one Report & Recommendation for a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and did research on employment discrimination, international service, reverse mortgages, permissible intervention in a class action, and other random issues the clerks needed help with. It's hard to choose just one favorite matter, but my favorite part overall was getting to see the different litigants, especially the pro se ones. The Eastern District has a lot of colorful characters! 

D.C. Government ’19: I helped attorneys research a variety of issues involving international law, the law of the sea, the law of armed conflict, and government ethics. 

D.C. DOJ ’19: I worked on all aspects of litigation from a government/environmental enforcement perspective. 

Nashville USAO ’20: Mainly criminal matters and a few civil investigations. 

Phoenix Air Force ’19: Mostly criminal litigation on the prosecutor side, but the Air Force offers free legal assistance in the form of answering questions, drafting wills, power of attorney and notaries. 

Alaska State Public Defender ’19: I represented clients in court every day at bail hearings and change of pleas, handled a misdemeanor caseload, and second-chaired a felony robbery trial.


What was your favorite “fun” summer class activity? 

E.D.N.Y. Judicial Internship ’20: The court had a celebration for Judge Jack Weinstein's 97th birthday. He's a really big deal in the Second Circuit, but he’s very humble and funny. I got to watch him hold a trial about Bitcoin. He's 97, and he still knows more about Bitcoin than me! 

D.C. DOJ ’19: We had a softball team that was super fun to play with. There was also a really cool hike, but I actually missed it because I was sick.

Nashville USAO ’20: We got to do all kinds of interesting "field trips." For example, we went to the state prison and toured the facilities, talked with an appellate judge, district court judge, magistrate judge, etc.

Phoenix Air Force ’19: Courts-martial that I was able to work on.


What was the most surprising thing about your summer?

E.D.N.Y. Judicial Internship ’20: I was surprised at how much responsibility I was trusted with. For example, the R&R I wrote was ordered and is now on WestLaw. That's crazy!

D.C. Government ’19: It was surprising to hear high-level international law issues, which I really thought only arose in classroom settings, being discussed in our office. It was interesting to see the practical consequences of differing legal interpretations, which I thought I’d only encounter in a classroom setting.

Nashville USAO ’20: The amount of substantive work I was able to get.

Alaska State Public Defender ’19: Being able to travel around Alaska and see amazing things, whether it was hiking a glacier, or camping with some of the attorneys.


What would you suggest to someone moving to your market (professional advice, recommendation of something fun to do, where to live, favorite restaurant—sky’s the limit!)?

E.D.N.Y. Judicial Internship ’20: My favorite bar in New York is called The Keep. It's in Ridgewood, which is kind of far out, but WORTH IT.

D.C. Government ’19: If you’re headed to DC, take time to see the sights, especially Arlington National Cemetery. 

D.C. DOJ ’19: The environmental law community is small, especially within a specific geographic area, so it's important to always be professional and make a good impression. You never know who's talking to who.

Nashville USAO ’20: I would make sure to find coworkers who know the city and can show you around. Nashville has so many fun/cool things to do and it's even better when you can experience it with a friend.