It has been over a year now, but I can still remember the thoughts that consumed my mind after completing the last final examination of my 1L spring semester: “First year of law school down, no more stress for three months!” Excitedly, I tossed my books aside, packed my things, and headed home to sunny South Florida. Beaming hot sun, breezes from the ocean and a nice iced coffee were on my mind, but so was my opportunity to start experiencing law in the real world!
Summer can be a nice time to kick back and relax, but my goals included more than just getting a good tan. Every day for six weeks I spent my days working in the Broward County Courthouse interning with the Honorable Judge Stacey Schulman of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit. Judge Schulman presides over dependency proceedings involving children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
After spending some time getting acquainted with my surroundings and getting a sense of what I would be doing, I began observing actual shelter hearings. Shelter hearings are those held within twenty-four hours of a child’s removal from their parents’ custody. The purpose of these hearings is for a judge to determine whether or not there was sufficient probable cause and if removal is appropriate. I found these hearings to be very interesting because I was able to observe dependency cases from the beginning.
Observing dependency cases also gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about juvenile delinquency. Broward County has a unified family court system where one judge will hear all matters related to a single case that involves a family. So, whenever Judge Schulman is assigned a dependency case that involves a child who has committed delinquent acts, she also presides over the delinquency hearings.
Upon returning to my law school classes in the fall, I found my lectures to be more interesting and engaging than ever before. One example was in Evidence where I was able to directly apply my readings for class to the actual cases I had witnessed over the summer.
My summer internship also gave me the opportunity to established valuable relationships with judges, staff, attorneys and other interns that I will continue to benefit from in my legal career. I am so thankful that I was able to take advantage of this opportunity. I encourage all current and incoming law students to take the opportunity to use their summers to get some legal experience, whether through internships, externships or clinics. There is no doubt that the experience will be educational and rewarding and will help you build your network!
Amanda Qadri, 3L