Spring 2008 Public Interest Internships
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Through the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law’s internship program, students gain "real-life” legal skills and academic credit while furnishing invaluable assistance to judicial, governmental, and non-profit entities in the D.C. metropolitan area. In the 2008 spring semester, a record sixteen students provided more than 3000 hours of legal service, and experienced a wide variety of practice areas and professional development challenges as interns with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the D.C. Superior Court and Court of Appeals, the US Tax Court, the Maryland Public Defender’s Office and other sites.
Directed by Prof. William Robinson, the program operates during the spring and summer semesters. Educational goals are to help students develop and improve their legal skills, explore career areas of particular interest, identify and analyze professional responsibility problems, and make connections with working lawyers and other professionals for future networking and possible employment.
At the beginning of the semester, students draft a "goals memo” which is discussed in their individual "entrance interviews” and again during their "exit interviews” at the end of the semester. Students meet during a weekly tutorial with Professor Robinson and Ms. Dena Bauman, Director of Career Services, to examine the broader social, political, economic, and policy-related ramifications of their fieldwork, as well as to serve as a sounding board for each other. Students keep a weekly journal to reflect upon their experiences and help them work through professional development issues. Field supervisors provide detailed mid-term and final evaluations. Professor Robinson and Ms. Bauman meet face-to-face with every supervisor during the course of the semester to discuss the intern’s progress.
All the students in the spring semester class are candidates for graduation in May 2008. We hope you enjoy reading about their experiences!
At the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Andre Robertson worked for the Office of Federal Operations, researching and drafting memoranda. He will be relocating to Augusta, GA after graduation, where his wife is doing her medical residency. Mr. Robertson was able to explore his interest in employment law through the internship. Working with his church’s legal counsel’s office whetted Harry Valcourt’s interest in employment law, leading to his placement with the Office of EEOC Commissioner Stuart J. Ishimaru. Supervising attorney Jacinta Ma said "Harry’s strength is in his ability to take an assignment and work very independently with little guidance.” Following graduation, Mr. Valcourt will clerk for D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Pamela Gray.
Five students interned with the D.C. Superior Court. Working for Judge John H. Bayly, Jimmy Davis drafted orders ruling on motions and researched legal issues for the judge who was on a "busy misdemeanor calendar”. The judge said "Mr. Davis is confident and enthusiastic. He welcomes assignments with vigor and an eager mind. He does not shy away from any task nor does he cut any corners.” Mr. Davis, whose previous internships focused on immigration law, hopes eventually to open his own practice, building on professional contacts that he developed in school. Teresa Fulford continued her fall internship with Judge Robert Rigsby this spring. She is considering an LL.M. in litigation, among other interests. John Hopkins interned for Magistrate Judge Karen Howze. Mr. Hopkins met his goals to gain experience in the professional workplace and observe the application of law. Judge Howze commented, "Throughout the experience, Mr. Hopkins has been motivated and worked with enthusiasm exemplified by his work product.” Christopher May chose the internship class to help him clarify his career direction and improve his writing skills, and a judicial placement to learn about a wide array of practice areas. He met many of his goals in his internship with the Honorable Ann O’Regan Keary. Scott Peary, who worked at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia in last summer’s class, interned for Judge Herbert Dixon, to improve his research and writing skills and expand his professional network. He said the placement helped him clarify where he would like to work after graduation.
Ariel Shea worked for D.C. Court of Appeals Associate Judge Inez Smith Reid. Ms. Shea, who has been the UDC-DCSL webmistress for many years, has long-term career interests in working in direct legal services for low-income clients. With a keen interest in tax law, Keisha Potter chose an internship with Judge Peter Panuthos, Chief Special Trial Judge for the United States Tax Court. He praised her overall performance and said "Keisha’s strong points are a desire to learn, ability to take constructive criticism, and to be totally responsive.” During the weekly tutorial, Ms. Potter moderated an attorney panel. The panelists, representing the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, talked about balancing professional and personal lives. Ms. Potter hopes to obtain her LL.M in tax law. Ajene Turnbull, who will be clerking for Maryland Circuit Court Judge Joseph Dugan in Fall 2008, interned for Judge Eric Johnson, who was on a criminal calendar. He prepared memoranda, orders, researched legal issues and drafted an appellate opinion. Judge Johnson said "Ajene is always willing and enthusiastic” about his assignments and "has a great attitude.”
Two students, Sean Becker and Layne Pierre, worked as the first UDC-DCSL students to intern in Maryland under its student practice rule. At the Annapolis Defenders’ office, Mr. Becker, who has previous internships in Nevada at the state public defenders office and the US Attorneys Office, gained the specific expertise in Maryland criminal defense work that he sought. His supervisor, Elizabeth Palen, said that, "All the attorneys who worked with Sean were pleased with his work,” noting that "he was thoroughly prepared to go forward with a jury trial,” that resolved on the day of trial. Mr. Pierre, at the Towson office, wanted to improve his client interviewing skills, and did so. Supervising attorney Jennifer Aist said that "Layne has independently handled collateral cases and misdemeanor cases from the District Court. He demonstrated great writing and research skills” and "was an asset in court.”
Nancy Combs interned for the Litigation Division of US FEMA, working with ’07 graduate Daniel Piccaluga, who was hired as a staff attorney following his FEMA internship last spring. Ms. Combs is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship, which is a national honors program to recruit and retain new leadership for the federal government. A retired US Air Force officer, Nancy chose the internship because she plans a federal government career, and wanted a good grounding in federal practice and the opportunity to develop her legal research, writing and litigation skills. Supervisor Jordan Fried noted that "Nancy is driven to achieve results.”
Building on his passion to improve the District of Columbia community, as well as his interest in health care delivery, Wayne Turner worked for the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, where he focused on researching and analyzing District Medicaid laws. Supervisor Yvonne Lee commented that "Wayne’s strengths include research abilities, and the willingness to learn and be motivated while tackling a large, complex topic.” Wayne’s long term career interests are to work in the federal government on health care fraud.
Brandi Garcia also worked for the District of Columbia, as a legal intern in the Child Support Services Division, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Brandi took the internship class to improve her legal research and writing skills, professional development expertise, and explore an interest in family law. In her final evaluation, Assistant Attorney General Sarah Kaplan said, "Ms. Garcia’s attitude remains a delight. Her writing and research abilities, as well as her skills in working with others, are her great strengths.”
At the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, Denise Sanchez explored an interest in death penalty practice, as well as improving her legal research, writing and professional development skills. Supervising attorney Michele Meitl says "Denise contributed a great deal as an intern by jumping on board quickly. She performed assignments eagerly.” Ms. Sanchez plans to return to her hometown in Arizona and join her mother’s legal practice in family law.
Dena Bauman worked with Prof. Robinson to help place the students, oversee the placements and weekly tutorials and class assignments, and bring in guest speakers on professional ethics and career planning. Ms. Bauman commented, "Assisting the internship director is an excellent opportunity to see the students in the classroom, and to help them reflect critically on the experience through in-class discussion and in their written weekly journals. I also enjoyed meeting the students and their supervisors during the mid-semester site visits. Those visits help build relationships for future students and alumni at the School.”