Summer Spotlight: Clerking for the Houston Bar Association President

NPlanitz Summer Blog Pic

This summer I am working as a law clerk for Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, Texas. I am working directly under Houston Bar Association President, Benny Agosto, Jr. on a case involving a chemical plant fire in which we represent over sixty clients. With Abraham Watkins being one of the oldest Plaintiff firms in Houston, this summer I am gaining useful experience from some of the best attorneys in the State of Texas.

One of the many exciting parts about working at a Plaintiff’s firm is that every day brings a new challenge and experience. With this, tasks are always changing, which requires the ability to adapt and think on your toes. During my time here I have learned useful skills in case preparation that will be very helpful in my career. These skills include aiding in discovery matters, indexing medical records, amending interrogatories, drafting demand letters and deposition summaries, preparing document reviews for depositions, and conducting legal research.

Working for the President of the Houston Bar Association affords many opportunities to give back to the community here in Texas. Mr. Agosto coordinates with many charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and LegalLine, to organize community events. Through LegalLine, I had the opportunity to speak directly with those in need of legal representation in order to assist them in securing adequate representation they both need and deserve.

While law school provides a great legal foundation for students, there is still much more to learn outside of the classroom to ensure a successful and growing legal career. Working in the legal field provides real world experiences that will sharpen your practical skills so that you are better prepared to make the transition from law school into the world of a practicing attorney.

NPlanitz Summer Blog Pic2
The firms “Astro’s Day” at work. Afterwards, we enjoyed the game as a group that night.

Planitz, Nathan - Web   – Nathanal Planitz, 2L

Summer Spotlight: Chicago Public Defender’s Office Intern

 

samantha-lowe (3)

I am currently interning as a certified legal intern (otherwise known as a “711” in Illinois) at the Public Defender’s (P.D.) Office in Cook County, which is located in Chicago! I am assigned to the Juvenile Justice division, which means we represent all children eighteen years or younger who become involved with the criminal justice system.

A typical day for me consists of going to court every morning until about 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM, otherwise known as “Docket Call.” During this time we meet with new clients who were either arrested the night before or over the weekend. Docket consists of everything from arraignments to trials, including sentencing hearings and violation of probation hearings. I am assigned to the same courtroom and judge for the entire summer and even though he moves very quickly, there is a lot to be done during this time. Usually we just meet with our clients, explain the status of the case, what they are being charged with, or if it is a trial date, determine whether or not they have decided if they want to testify, among various other things. IL is similar to FL in that most juvenile cases are what are called bench trials, meaning that the judge essentially is the jury.

As a certified legal intern/711, I am able to speak with clients on my own while my supervising attorney is in the room with me. Additionally, I am able to do parts of a trial, such as the direct or cross-examination of a witness or even the closing statement all on my own. If there is ever a motion hearing, for example a motion to suppress, I can also draw that up and argue it in court. I basically get to act as a junior attorney under the supervision of a licensed attorney even though I am still in law school.

The second half of the day consists of prepping for upcoming cases or meeting with clients in lockup and conducting client interviews. There are a lot of differences from the FL and IL legal systems, but I think getting to experience and learn both will only benefit me in the long run. Everyone in my office is extremely kind and very helpful. Because they are unionized, most of the P.D.’s have been in the division for 10+ years – this is very rare in Florida P.D. and State Attorney offices, which often have a very high turnover rate. The fact that these people have almost “grown up” with each other for the past 10 or so years makes for a really comfortable and collegial working atmosphere and is definitely one of my favorite parts about my internship thus far.

Although I’m only two weeks in, I’ve already learned so much about what it means to be an attorney rather than just a law student. I’m also learning how to find a balance between being a zealous but also respectful advocate for my client. All in all, it is an experience I highly recommend to any student, especially those considering a career in criminal law or litigation in general. Very rarely do programs allow students to gain such hands on experience within an actual courtroom, so this opportunity is invaluable if not just for that sole factor!

Samantha Lowe, 3L

Summer Spotlight: Criminal Law Judicial Intern & Tax Law Research Assistant

College of Law Student Ambassadors 2019

This summer I am working as a judicial intern at the 17th Judicial Circuit with Judge Bernard Bober in the Criminal Division and also working as a research assistant for Florida State Law’s Professor Steve Johnson. If anyone has any questions about either of these experiences, I would be happy to answer them!

As a judicial intern, I have a front row seat to how the court process works beyond what I’ve learned from textbooks. Each day, I have the opportunity to both network with attorneys and other judges and to view various trials.  I also often have the chance to eat lunch with Judge Bober and have one-on-one conversations about each trial and the different developments in the courtroom. As a result of my internship, I have gained a valuable mentor in Judge Bober and I am now more comfortable with the idea of going into litigation.

As a research assistant for Professor Johnson, I am using the legal databases LexisNexis and Westlaw to find articles and cases to help him with his current research on federal tax law. I knew I was interested in tax policy fairly soon after I started at the College of Law.  This role has given me a unique opportunity to build a foundation for my future efforts to break into the tax law field while I prepare to take more advanced tax and business law courses. I am beyond grateful to Professor Johnson for this excellent experience and the chance to work for a nationally recognized scholar on tax law at this stage in my education.

Dylan Pryor, 2L

Summer Spotlight: Externing at the Public Defender’s Office

This summer I have a Criminal Litigation Externship with the Leon County Public Defender’s office. I spend my days mostly doing legal research for the attorney I was assigned to. I have been drafting motions, attending hearings, and sitting in on trials. A typical day will include going to court at least once, and then spending the rest of my day researching or drafting. I have learned a ton about the criminal justice system, and the different ways prosecutors and public defenders negotiate. My favorite thing I have sat in on so far this summer has been jury selection. It is so interesting to see the different qualities attorneys want in their jurors depending on the case.

I am also taking Evidence this summer with Professor Mark Spottswood. Evidence is an extremely interesting subject and it ties in nicely with my work at the Public Defender’s Office. Taking a 4 credit class in only 8 weeks has been difficult but I have really enjoyed getting to fully immerse myself in one subject, instead of splitting my time between five. The most fascinating thing we have learned so far have been the hearsay exceptions. There are so many of them, and I had no idea. My knowledge of hearsay exceptions has already come in handy at the Public Defender’s office more than once, so I know it will help me for years to come.

College of Law Student Ambassadors 2019   Madison Johnson, 2L

Summer Spotlight: Federal Government Internship in Washington, D.C.

Ever since I was little I have always known that I wanted to practice in Washington, D.C. My mom used to bring me with her when she had business trips in the area, and even as a little girl I fell in love with all the city has to offer. During my undergraduate career I had the opportunity to spend an entire summer interning in D.C. and it just solidified my love for the area. Now as a law student, I was lucky enough to land a position as a Legal Intern with the United States Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor in the Office of Indian Trust Litigation in Washington, D.C.

The office is responsible for defending all litigation brought against the Department by individual Indians and Indian Tribes for breach of trust relating to the management of trust funds held by the department for management of tribal lands and natural resources. As an Environmental Law Certificate student, with a focus in administrative law, this opportunity is a perfect mix of my interest in environmental law, natural resources law, and administrative law. It provides me the opportunity to experience what the legal field is like on a federal level, as well as learn more about a very relevant, niche area of the law. I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with federal government attorneys and learn first-hand what it is like to practice here.

Having this opportunity is more than just an educational learning experience, it also allows for immense personal and professional growth. Washington, D.C. is a huge hub for the legal field, and there are people from all over the country practicing in every area of law. In my time outside of my internship, I am able to attend networking events with local attorneys and congressional staff, various speaker events, and experience all of the history that this city has to offer. My office is located just a few blocks from the White House and the National Mall, so that is just an added bonus I get to see on my daily commute.

I am so thankful to Florida State Law for allowing me to have this amazing growth and learning experience and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer in this amazing city!

College of Law, Student Ambassadors    – Erica Gloyd, 3L

Summer Spotlight: Worker’s Compensation & Employment Law

College of Law Student Ambassadors 2019This summer I am working at McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver & Stern, P.A., a premier defense firm in Pensacola, FL. The firm represents a variety of industries, including banking and finance, healthcare, service and hospitality, State and local government, manufacturing or processing facilities, not-for-profit and religious organizations, construction and professional employer organizations.

I am learning a great deal about worker’s compensation and just how a law firm works in general. I have sat in on seminars, training calls, and mediations to learn about the practice area. The partner I am working under, Susan Marks, is a Florida State Law alum and has been very nice and helpful. The whole experience has made me even more confident in my decision to pursue a career in law, and in choosing Florida State Law.

Coming from out-of-state and having seen very little of Florida, this summer has been a great opportunity to explore a different city in my new home state and see a little bit of what Florida has to offer outside of Tallahassee. Everyone at the firm has been very helpful by introducing me to the area and making sure I feel comfortable.  

 Rachel Maxwell, 2L

Summer Spotlight: Networking

This summer I’m working in the Alumni Affairs Office at the College of Law and taking two classes, Evidence, and Professional Responsibility. In my job I’ve been able to network with our alums and learn valuable information about different practice areas, as well as make lasting contacts that will help me in my future as an attorney. 

As far as class goes, I’m learning about ethics which will not only prepare for the MPRE, but also greatly benefit me as a lawyer after graduation. I’m also learning evidence which will help me next year, both as I compete on the Mock Trial Team, and as I act as the Head Coach for the Phi Alpha Delta Trial Team. Evidence is also a big requirement for many externships and is very beneficial for anyone hoping to pursue criminal law and/or litigation. 

Overall, I’m fortunate to have had these networking opportunities, and taking these important classes now will help me get a jump start on my 2L year! 

 College of Law Student Ambassadors 2019    – Corie Posey, 2L