AUWCL Spotlight: Students Share Summer Internship, Externship Experience
August 7, 2018
This summer, a number of students from American University Washington College of Law spent their break participating in internships and externships around Washington, D.C. We asked three students to tell us about their experience, and how the lessons they have learned at AUWCL helped prepare them for their intern and extern roles.
This summer, rising 3L India James-Flemister externed at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Superior Court Division, Homicide Section. As a summer law clerk, she assisted U.S. attorneys in drafting motions, conducting legal research, and assisting in all facets of trial preparation.
James-Flemister said her time at AUWCL prepared her in a number of ways. “The research and writing skills I learned in Legal Rhetoric have been key when drafting motions and legal memoranda under strict time constraints,” she said. “Evidence has greatly assisted when drafting motions in limine to include or exclude various pieces of evidence, and Criminal Procedure has helped me to better understand when and why defense attorneys assert claims of 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment violations and how to respond. Criminal Trial Advocacy has taught me trial techniques such as drafting direct and cross examination questions, and I am able to assist AUSAs in developing their questions, as well as sit in on trials and see how various techniques work in different situations.”
Tim Cummings, a rising 2L student, spent the summer working as a judicial intern with the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. There, he wrote bench memoranda, as well as drafted orders and notes for Judge Chutkan. He was also afforded the opportunity to observe several court proceedings.
“AUWCL prepared me to be a critical legal writer,” Cummings said. “Because of Legal Rhetoric, I felt confident in my abilities to research novel issues and to draft coherent arguments. Although I worked independently, I knew that I was equipped with the right tools to complete my work.”
Rising 2L Halie Peacher was a judicial extern for Judge Trevor N. McFadden at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Over the summer, she conducted research on a variety of legal issues including the Federal Records Act, False Claims Act, and Freedom of Information Act. She aided in researching, writing, and editing multiple opinions and wrote a memorandum regarding multiple Title VII claims. Peacher also wrote summaries to keep the chambers informed of all of the D.C. Court of Appeal's opinions.
“AUWCL gave me the opportunity to take Legal Rhetoric from Professor David Spratt. Without Rhetoric and Professor Spratt's guidance, I would have probably freaked out when my supervising clerk gave me a limited time frame to research and advise the judge on a certain topic,” Peacher said. “Moreover, my experience at AUWCL prepared me to feel confident in my legal analysis and writing. Failing to plan is planning to fail. There is no way that I could fail because AUWCL ensured that I was adequately prepared for any and all curveballs that my summer externship could throw my way.”
This summer, rising 2L Jimmy Valenzuela was selected as a Thurgood Marshall Law Clerk for the Maryland Attorney General. The program is designed to give 5-7 students from the DMV area an opportunity to serve the citizens of the State of Maryland through their work at the Attorney General’s Office. There, Valenzuela was assigned to the Educational Affairs Division, which identifies legal issues and researches case law to assess the University System of Maryland’s exposure to liability. He advised the supervising assistant attorney general on possible solutions based on research through memoranda and emails, and was able to draft motions to dismiss on particular legal issues to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
“AUWCL gave me the opportunity to learn from great legal minds,” Valenzuela said. “Specifically, it gave me the chance to take Legal Rhetoric from Professor Paul Figley. Professor Figley and other 1L professors instilled in me the confidence I needed to research novel issues and draft arguments that would lead to results being sought. After my first year of law school and the work I did this summer, I can say that AUWCL ensured that I was prepared to overcome any challenges that arose.”
Leon Stern, a rising 2L student, spent his summer interning with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia in the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence unit. Stern said his average day included drafting motions and sentencing memorandum, conducting research on complex legal issues, and assisting attorneys in preparation for upcoming trials. He also observed several trials, where he was able to observe attorneys engage in legal arguments on how a judge should rule on a particular issue. Additionally, some supervising attorneys allowed Stern to sit in during victim interviews.
“I would definitely say that Legal Rhetoric thoroughly prepared me for this summer,” Stern said. “My legal research and skills in writing have allowed me to form coherent arguments and update my supervising attorneys on current law and procedure within the District of Columbia, as well as giving me the mindset of knowing when I have thoroughly completed my research.”