Thursday, July 10, 2008

D.C. Superior Court

Britt Cass shares her experiences from a summer in DC:

I am now seven weeks in to my job as a judicial intern on the civil calendar at the D.C. Superior Court, and I can unequivocally say that this summer is flying by. I feel fortunate to be working in a small chambers—it’s only the judge, her administrative assistant, the law clerk, one other intern, and me here. This means that I have been able to interact with the judge and law clerk (both GULC alumnae!) every day on a variety of matters. They have both been great role models for me (I want to be them when I grow up!).

I was hoping to get a chance to see some trials and other matters before the court. This hope was not in vain; I have seen matters ranging from murder trials to wrongful death medical malpractice trials to Judge Judy-style bickering between neighbors who are seeking protective orders against each other. I have also witnessed quite a range of skill from lawyers. One day, I’m listening to one of the best orators I’ve ever encountered making a closing argument in defense of a doctor accused of malpractice; the next, I’m reading truly atrocious briefs (was my LRW professor fibbing when she said you had to be good at her subject to practice law?).

Before I started, I was nervous about my legal research and writing skills. However, it turned out that the many briefs and memos I have produced have increased my confidence and, I hope, refined my skills in legal writing. The subjects I have researched and written on have been as interesting and varied as the trials I talked about above. All the work I’ve done has been a great reminder of the fact that lawyers work to resolve serious problems for real people. The judge asks me to tell her how I think she should rule on each order I work on, and has actually agreed with me the majority of the time. This summer has opened my eyes to how interesting, challenging, and rewarding legal work can be. I am forever grateful to the Equal Justice Foundation for allowing me this opportunity, since without it, I’m pretty sure there’s no way I could have taken on this unpaid internship.

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