Saturday, May 24, 2008

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

My first week as an intern at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Alicia Kelman

Life lesson #1: Learn to love the Bluebook. Contrary to what you may
think, the Bluebook is not the most poorly organized good for nothing
unnecessarily complicated piece of nonsense ever put on paper. Trust
me, once you sit down to read a petitioner's motion and none of the
citations make even a little bit of sense, and you are forced to delve
deep into the depths of Westlaw in order to figure out what the motion
is referring to, you will realize the benefits of a uniform system of

Life lesson #2: Bring the law clerks Starbucks. Coffee breaks are the
perfect time to chat with the law clerks about the cases that they're
working on. Over a deliciously refreshing iced latte, I learned all
about the difficulties in proving a Title VII discrimination claim,
the intricacies and loopholes of bankruptcy law, and the meaning of
the Latin phrase pro hac vice.

Life lesson #3: LRW was not pointless torture. Twice this week the law
clerk asked me to venture into the court library and find the
publication date of a print source. If not for all of those lovely LRW
research assignments, (ie, the ones where I wandered aimlessly around
the library muttering to myself "when will I ever need to do any
research other than on Westlaw?"), I would have been in serious

Life lesson #4: Being a judge is harder than you think. Four interns
are sitting in what is lovingly referred to as "the pit," reading
motions for summary judgment on an immigration case. After reading the
first motion, each one of us proclaims "yes, definitely, this guy
wins, for sure, no doubt about it, he should totally get to stay in
America." Fast forward half an hour… same four interns, after reading
the other side's motion: "oh, wow, wait a second, this guy's arguments
are pretty good too, huh, maybe the judge should send the guy back to
England." True story.

Life lesson #5: I want to be Jack McCoy. "Law & Order" might not be
entirely accurate, but the reality is just as awesome. On the first
day of my internship, the law clerk printed out a schedule of
everything going on in the court for the week, and highlighted stuff
that he thought us interns would find particularly fascinating. Having
the opportunity to observe everything from arraignments to full blown
jury trials and sentencing hearings is absolutely incredible.

Life lesson #6: EJF is my savior. Five days into the summer, and
already I have received quite an education. Without the EJF funding, I
would have been unable to: 1) Buy a shiny new Bluebook so I could
decode a petitioner's motion, 2) Buy the law clerks lattes in exchange
for their wisdom, 3) Buy gifts to bribe the librarians for help with
my research, 4) Buy new reading glasses so I can tackle any assignment
the judge gives me, and 5) Buy "Law & Order" DVDs so I could compare
my experiences to that of my idol. Kidding aside, without the EJF
funding, my summer would be entirely different – not sure where I
would have chosen to intern, and not sure what life lessons I would
have learned…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ABA- Rule of Law Initiative

Throughout the summer EJF recipients will be posting about their chosen summer public interest employment.

We're kicking off the blog with a post from EJF board member Riley Graebner:

I’ve been interning at the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative for all of four days and here’s some lessons learned:
Be prepared to do substantive work on the first day.
If you say you know a mildly obscure language, you better know it. My first day I supplemented my Romanian vocabulary with terms like “law clerk” “prosecutor’s office” while researching almost exclusively in that elusive fifth romance language. And if you speak a foreign language, bring your dictionary.
Folks here are super nice. They’re cutting me some slack during journal write-on. That’s showing a law student some love.
Reading the nutshell on Public International Law was totally useless. Think the nutshell is going to have a chapter of court personnel training reform in Romania post-2002? Ah, no.
People here are very serious about their water coolers.

Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) is the largest program in the Washington, DC office of the American Bar Association. ROLI provides legal technical assistance to countries around the world in seven main areas: anti-corruption, criminal law reform and human trafficking, gender issues, human rights and conflict mitigation, judicial reform, legal education reform, and legal professional reform. Project implementation is done through collaboration of ABA staff and host country nationals. The office of Research and Program Development, where I’m interning, provides research support for ROLI’s various programs around the world as well as implements reform assessments.

I’ve just put a toe in the water, but I’m currently working on a field manual commissioned by the United Nations’ Office on Drug and Crime for judges on how to improve judicial integrity and transparency. The small piece I’ve been researching and writing over the past few days looks at court personnel reform and, specifically, some of the best practices exhibited by Romania. Getting to use my Romanian and delve into a specific topic has been—dare I say it—fun.

Equal Justice Foundation

EJF's Live Auction took place January 29, 2015 in Hart Auditorium and was a HUGE SUCCESS. Check the Facebook page for updates about other ways to help fund public interest activities for Summer 2015