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My Law Internship Experience, "The Courtroom Life"

Updated on March 22, 2012

The State of Texas v. Prospective Interns: The Courtroom Life

The sun gleams through the window, and at approximately 9:00 AM I hear “All rise for the Honorable Judge Chap Cain.” The hardwood floors creak from age, after all I was standing in a courtroom built in the early 1900s. As the Judge precedes down the aisle, I see the infamous electric orange jumpsuits enter in. Once the judge is seated, the murder trial begins. As the first witness comes forth to the stand, we hear the iconic question from the Bailiff, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” Once the witness abides, the court comes to order and the drama ensues. The courtroom was a place that could be both civil, yet shift to intense debate in seconds; however the courtroom was practically my second home during the summer, and this was how I spent many of my summer mornings. OK, you may be wondering, what did I do wrong? I wasn’t in there for committing an offense, I was simply there to learn. I was presented with the opportunity to intern for my local District Attorney the summer before my senior year. With strong hopes of attending law school, I jumped on this opportunity. So, while most teenagers were either attending summer camps, waiting tables, or checking out people at the grocery store, I was picking out juries, observing inmate behavior, and immersing myself in the art of criminal law. When I was looking at job possibilities, I knew that I really was interested in an internship. I felt that internships provide a person with a more specialized, informed, real-world experience, giving them a better understanding as to what they may want to do in the future; internships essentially get people well-versed and are more of a teaching experience. Going into this new internship, I will admit, I was nervous that I would be stuck in a cubicle filing my summer days away, but in reality, that was what I did the least of. Most people would have the same apprehension as I did coming into an internship, but unlike a job with a specific task, it is hard to pinpoint a single task that you will handle within an internship. Most internships are set out to provide the intern with a well-rounded, real-life, workplace experience. Now through the case that will be presented in this essay, I will strive to prove beyond a “reasonable doubt” to you, the jury, that this internship was effective in providing me real-life experiences, hands-on activities, and constant interactions, giving me much insight into the field of criminal law and its procedures. I will also set out to prove that this internship is one to seriously look into if any of you are debating going into the criminal law field. Now, “May it please the Court...”

State’s Exhibit A: Real Experiences
Working alongside the District Attorney, I was presented with real experiences. One of the criteria that sets an internship apart from a typical job is the opportunity to face particular experiences that could occur within your potential career path. Now, I am aware that some intern programs that have many interns conduct simulated experiences to give them the idea of the situation, but this was not the case at the District Attorney’s office. Being the only intern there, I was given the opportunity to experience real criminal law situations on a daily basis. I know that there is nothing “Law & Order” about a courtroom, that is what I wanted to experience, and that is what I saw. Honestly, I do not know how someone could realistically recreate an interview with an inmate. From my summer there, I learned that inmate interaction is vital within criminal law, and I learned this from real face-to-face interaction with one. This experience was presented to me with caution at first, but once I started to understand the process of observing their behaviors and mannerisms, I became way more comfortable with the situation. If trained in a simulated experience, I still would feel a little hesitant to interact with inmates. Besides inmate interaction, I was also presented the opportunity to visit actual crime scenes with actual evidence markers. I even went into an autopsy room. Now, people of the jury, if you are looking at this criteria as a main feature in picking an internship out, then you will not find better experiences anywhere else. The District Attorney helped me become aware of what I will have to experience in my criminal law future, and, had I have had the simulated experience of most interns, I still would not be as comfortable as I should. That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is State’s Exhibit A.

State’s Exhibit B: Hands-on Look
Being a kinesthetic learner, it was very important for me to have a hands-on look into the law. I felt that this area was where this internship was going to fall short. Upon my first day, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do that many hands-on activities, simply because I wasn’t licensed to do so, and for the most part, I was going to have to observe. I was fine with this fact, because observing is something every intern, in every internship, must do. Little did I know, this was far from true. The District Attorney literally let me sort, organize, and analyze actual criminal case files. Unlike a regular job, or most internships, I was trusted to handle very top secret information regarding certain people on a daily basis. I didn’t even think I could do this! Through this hands-on opportunity, I was able to make informed judgments and observations during the trials I watched. From working with these files, I felt like I was literally apart of the trial itself, after all I had read over the information so much, I could recite it in my sleep. During the ten trials I watched and worked on over the past summer, I was able to make at least one observation in each that helped make the state’s argument stronger and more cohesive. Along with being hands-on, this summer was full of critical thinking and analyzing. There is nothing that I wanted more within an internship than massive amounts of critical thinking, especially when planning on going into the law field. Had I have not seen, and endured, the analyzing and critical deciphering needed for this field, I would have been completely overwhelmed with Law School. Forming judgments on certain situations was made easier by the hands-on experiences and critical thinking I was presented with, therefore from this Exhibit, the jury should be able to see the benefit of the hands-on approach of this internship. That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is State’s Exhibit B.

State’s Exhibit C: Constant Interaction
Having interactions, makes connections. My mother had taught me this saying before my junior year of high school and, come to find out, it is true. In any internship, an intern seeks to find interaction with professionals in the field they are interested in; however, this interaction may not always be on a daily basis. One of my hopes for this internship was that I would be able to constantly interact, on a daily basis, with professional attorneys. I knew that sometimes the only interaction you can have is with a filing cabinet or computer. Some of my friends assumed that my job was nothing but me talking to a filing cabinet, but that was far from right. I dived right in to working with multiple, licensed attorneys from day one. The moment I stepped into my office on the first day, I already had a call from a local defense attorney regarding a case. I became close friends with the other office staff that summer, but I also made connections with many local attorneys of Liberty, Texas. I was never expecting the opportunity to work daily alongside professional and licensed lawyers, but they practically became colleagues. They would come to me for evidence files, case files, and audio/video interviews. Over time, I was able to form many connections, and shortly after I started working, I was already being invited to go on certain tasks with them. They took me to the local jails, probation offices, crime scenes, the police department, and, of course, lunch. Through these interactions, I have also made lasting connections. What could have been simply other lawyers that knew only my name, have now become top references on law school applications. Not many internships provide their interns with this kind of interaction. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: through interactions, I have made connections. From this internship I wanted to really get plugged in within the judicial system of Liberty, Texas, and I accomplished that and more. Through the steady interactions of this internship, I was able to fulfill this criteria. If you are looking to also get plugged into this system, then working for the District Attorney has proven, beyond a “reasonable doubt,” that you will become plugged in and involved in so many ways. That, people of the jury, is State’s Exhibit C.

Now we have seen the State’s Exhibits and can come to the informed conclusion that working under the Liberty County District Attorney taught me hard work, along with presenting me with real life, hands-on experiences, and constant interactions. It can teach you, people of the jury, these lessons too. All the criteria important to me in an internship experience were achieved, and I know I have become a better, and more educated person because of this opportunity. Therefore, you can find this internship “not guilty” of being a summer of boredom, but “guilty” of making me more informed and argumentative on certain topics (my parents sure appreciate this). All things wanted, became all things gained. Learning both about myself, and the field of criminal law, I am blessed to have been given such an amazing opportunity. “May it please the Court, working for the District Attorney of Liberty, Texas can provide one with a great evaluation about themselves and the potential career paths one may take. Through these exhibits, we have seen that each of the important criteria of an internship have been more than fulfilled.” Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the District 75th Court is adjourned, until next summer.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      I like the way you use your own experiences to explain how helpful an internship at a court can be to someone interested in law. My daughter is thinking about a law career. I may try to see what sort of internship she could do.