The past six weeks have flown by! It feels like my program just started, yet, this time next month, everyone will be back at their respective colleges or law schools and the program will be over. I almost wish that I could slow time down (for some parts of the internship; I am in no hurry to slow down the copy machine- it is slow enough as it is!) because I am really enjoying my time at the US Attorney’s Office – except for the part where I have to wear a suit to work everyday in 95 degree heat!
Before the summer began, my primary goal was to prepare myself for an entry-level position in the legal field when I graduate next year — that’s the goal of any internship I suppose: job preparation. And while I have gained exposure to legal motions and briefs, and drafted several responses myself, most of the learning that I will take away from this experience will be from observing the Assistant US Attorneys and their routines. From the outside looking in, being a lawyer calls to mind images of attorneys experiencing thrilling arguments with their opposing counsel in a courtroom and feeling the euphoria of having their objection sustained – people expect attorneys to spend most of their time standing in front of a jury, and dazzling them with their rhetoric, like on TV shows such as CSI. In reality, though, what I’ve found is that most of the attorneys I work with spend 90 percent of their time behind their desk preparing for cases that may never make it to trial.
Nevertheless, the office keeps its interns busy — half of the time I enter the office in the morning expecting to work on one project, and finish the day not having done a thing for that project because I was assigned three other priority cases to work on. Lucky for me, we record all of our assignments on a daily log, which serves as a helpful reminder for what projects we’ve finished and what we still need to do.
I split my time between researching cases in the library, organizing exhibits for trial into binders and boxes in the office and observing or assisting trials in courtrooms.
So far, the most fun that I’ve had has been getting to know my fellow interns, most of whom have taken me under their wing and given me tons of advice for law school. I’m going to miss our lunchtime arguments about which superhero movie series was the best or which team will win the World Series this year. Just this afternoon, we all played softball against the clerk’s office — it was the Assistant US Attorneys and their paralegals and interns against the judges, court martials and their interns. Unfortunately, we didn’t stand a chance – nobody expected that federal judges could hit 300 foot fly balls!
As one last note: something that I’ve learned about the legal field in the last six weeks is that detail matters. If the font on the cover page of the exhibit binders is not the same size for all 4 sets, they need to be redone; you need to cite the jurisdiction for any case that you include in a legal brief, not just the name and the year; and most of all, always remind your superiors to “shake it off” after they strike out at the plate.
– Ricky Rosen ’14
4 thoughts on “Six Weeks Later: Hitting A Home Run at My Internship”
I see that you’re really enjoying your internship. Did this experience have any impact on your goal to become a lawyer? It seems that your work environment and colleagues are fun to be around, but I was wondering what your reaction was when you found out that most lawyers spend 90% of their time preparing cases.
Great to hear from you! The experience itself has not really changed my willingness to pursue a legal career, since that has been my plan all along. But as I kind of alluded to in my first blog post, speaking to attorneys and law students who have been in my shoes and been down this path already has been really insightful. I still want to enter the field, but I am not at all naive about the obstacles that stand in my way (the competitiveness of law school application, the instability of the job market, the expenses associated, etc.).
In terms of my reaction to learning that attorneys spend nearly all of their time preparing for cases, rather than in trial, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Most jobs involve your typical heavy lifting at the office (paperwork, organizing files, etc.)- that’s just not the stuff people think about when they pursue their career!
Sounds like you are having a ton of fun in New York! But it’s also funny how you mention that something as trivial as a font size can send you back to the drawing board. I guess, as interns, we sometimes get stuck with the drudgery, but it can also be a great learning opportunity for us. Have you found that you’ve learned anything pretty cool or important while having to do some of these “heavy lifting” tasks? Sometimes these seemingly dull tasks can give you great insight into your organization.
To answer your question, I think the fact that the USAO places so much weight on minute details shows that they have a very specific structure for how everything should be- a template if you will- and it makes the work they do a lot easier if they can use the same format for every document. In my opinion, it’s a very efficient way of doing things (tedious as it may be at times) and shows how committed the office is to a flawless product. Hope your internship and your summer have been excellent!
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