Reflecting on My Summer Internship


Reflection — Consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose.”

-Merriam Webster's Dictionary

I honestly cannot believe my summer internship is already over.  I finished my ten weeks working with a local trial court judge last Thursday and I’m missing it already.  I really enjoyed my experience and saw so much during my time there.

What I Did

Throughout my internship, I did a lot of what you would suspect a legal intern would do; I researched and wrote opinions.  I worked on preliminary objections, habeus corpus petitions, appeals, and various other tasks.  I also sat in on a lot of hearings and proceedings in the courtroom, both civil and criminal.  My particular judge heard a lot of custody cases so that’s a majority of what I saw this summer.  They were always interesting and never really that dull.  I did get to see a jury trial, which obviously was not like anything you see on tv.  I really enjoyed getting to talk to my judge and law clerk about the cases we saw and their opinions.  It added another level of learning to observing court.  If there’s one thing I would recommend to do during your internship, it would be to observe as much as you can in court because it’s something you don’t really get to do during the school year.

What I Learned

Obviously, I learned a lot of substantive law from seeing cases play out in court and working on my assignments.  I worked on everything from custody to criminal suppression issues to arbitration agreements.  Whenever I saw something in the courtroom I wasn’t too sure about, the judge’s law clerk always explained some of the minute aspects of the law.  I also got to see what makes lawyers effective and not so effective.  It was painfully obvious which attorneys were more prepared or more invested in their case.  I really learned about the importance of collaboration this summer as well.  Frequently, I reached out to the other intern I worked with or my law clerk supervisor for help if I didn’t understand an issue I was working on.  Additionally, the judge I worked for always sought out his law clerk and even his intern’s opinion on cases he saw.  It was always a great feeling when he told me that he agreed with what I thought.

What I Recommend

At a summer internship or any internship, the main goal is to learn what it’s really like to be in the legal field.  Law school teaches you conceptual legal knowledge, but an internship gives you the opportunity to see how lawyers act and what their job actually is.  Take mental notes of how you want to emulate when you’re an attorney and try to keep them in mind when you’re writing assignments for class and at your next internship or clinic.

Also, I highly recommend getting to know your judge, law clerk, administrative assistant, and any attorneys you might see on a normal basis.  They can all open doors for you in the future when you’re looking for another internship or for a job.  Being on your judge’s good side can ensure you a good letter of recommendation or reference when you’re applying for other jobs.  Getting to know them can also just give you a person to reach out for advice or recommendations for jobs or what classes to take next year.  Connections are key in the legal field, and an internship is a great place to make them.

Did you have a similar experience at your summer internship this summer?

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