Summer Law Clerk Opportunities Offer Great Experience at All Government Levels

Working as a summer law clerk can be very rewarding and there are many opportunities to accomplish this type of work in all types of government agencies. These placements also offer a great opportunity to expand your network and sometimes a summer clerkship can turn into a longer-term clerkship or lead to a job after law school. The following individuals worked as law clerks in very different government agencies both in Tallahassee and elsewhere.

Christina Smiekle, Class of 2016 – Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Tallahassee, Florida

During the summer following my 2L year I worked for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) in Tallahassee, Florida. DBPR is the state agency charged with licensing and regulating businesses and professionals in the State of Florida. After the summer I continued working with the agency as a law clerk in the Construction Division. My experience at DBPR gave me an opportunity to learn more about administrative law as well as how government agencies work.

Alex Sarsfield, 3L – Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, Tampa, Florida

I spent the summer after my 1L year clerking for an administrative circuit judge in Tampa, Florida. While clerking I was able to write bench memos, perform legal research and acted as a medium with state prosecutors and public defenders in communicating with my judge. Although I do not intend to pursue criminal law as a career, I highly recommend clerking for a judge no matter what your legal interests may be. It was an invaluable experience for honing my legal writing skills as well as an opportunity to work in a professional environment with attorneys.

Christopher O’Brien, 3L – Florida Office of the Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida

During the summer after my 1L year I started my first job in law school as a law clerk with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. I was surprised by how much I learned in such a short period of time, and I truly enjoyed applying what I had learned as a 1L. As the summer was winding down I was asked by my supervisor if I wanted to continue working during the fall semester, which I happily accepted.

Travis Voyles, 3L – United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, Atlanta, Georgia

I approached the summer after my 1L year with a desire to get regulatory agency experience on a federal level and earned an opportunity to be a law clerk for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their Region 4 office. Assisting within the Office of Regional Counsel offered many opportunities working with the attorneys and other EPA staff in case meetings, negotiations, and policy updates from the very first day. I was able to work on numerous substantive assignments from attorneys dealing with ongoing issues and areas of concern that needed further research.

As a law clerk I also had the opportunity to participate with the head Regional Counsel and Director in several case update meetings and EPA initiative discussions. It was a great experience due to the desire of the attorneys and staff to expose us to all the different aspects of legal and policy matters that the EPA deals with on a daily basis. While I may not end up working within a federal or state regulatory agency, the experience provided me with an understanding of not only the perspective and responsibilities of federal agencies, but also the work life that is typical of a public sector legal job.  I highly encourage law students interested in any type of law with a connection to regulation to seek out positions similar this with the EPA where you can expand your understanding of the regulatory environmental and how it functions from either side of the interaction.

Student Ambassadors for the College of Law Chistina Smiekle, Class of 2016

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Alex Sarsfield, 3L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Christopher O’Brien, 3L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Travis Yoyles, 3L

 

My Summer at the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida

During the summer following my 1L year I had the privilege of working as an intern for United States District Judge Beth Bloom. Judge Bloom is one of the kindest, most caring, brilliant and inspiring women and I cannot rave enough about the opportunity I had to learn from her. “Are we learning?”, “What did you learn today?”, and “What can I do to help you learn more?” were Judge Bloom’s three favorite questions for her summer interns.

Judge Bloom works out of both the Fort Lauderdale and Miami federal courthouses. Depending on what might be scheduled on a given day, we could be working in either one or both locations. Having a change of scenery with different courthouses, different judges and different interns was extra fun.

As interns we received assignments from our supervising law clerks and were encouraged to go to all of Judge Bloom’s hearings, trials, and sentencings. Throughout the summer I completed memos and draft orders for six motions to dismiss, two Daubert motions and a motion for summary judgment. For one of the motions to dismiss, I even got to request a hearing and was allowed to sit in the Law Clerk/Courtroom Deputy chair since I had done the research and had discussed it with Judge Bloom prior to her ruling from the bench.

On top of the duties that come with being a United States District Judge, Judge Bloom spent every single day trying to make sure her interns were able to experience and learn as much about the legal system as possible. She believed that the best way to learn was through hands-on experience as well as by experiencing as much of the legal world inside and outside of the courthouse. She took us with her to a luncheon where she spoke to the North Broward Bar Association, to the Federal Bar’s Summer Associate Law Day, and to a Naturalization Ceremony she presided over. At the Naturalization Ceremony I was brought to tears by the stories of United States immigrants who had been through it all just to achieve their dreams of becoming United States citizens.

We watched several of Judge Bloom’s cases and those of other U.S. District judges as well as proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, family court, domestic violence court, and even a mob murder trial. I watched the detainment of twenty-seven members of the Latin Kings and the sentencing of two Al-Qaeda terrorists to whom Judge Bloom sentenced the maximum stating, “You are a terrorist, evil in nature and evil in your deeds.” We also got to go on a tour of Miami’s Federal Detention Center and the women’s prison in Homestead, Florida where we were able to see what goes on in criminal cases outside the walls of the courthouse before and after detainment, bond hearings and sentencings.

Even with all this, Judge Bloom planned special events for us. She and her law clerks also helped us plan a dessert reception, a sweet meet, and movie nights to get to know other judges, law clerks and interns in each courthouse. We had the dessert reception early in the summer and every other Tuesday night we invited interns to join us in watching law-related movies such as Paper Chase, Twelve Angry Men, Run Away Jury and My Cousin Vinny. We also had a sweet meet where we brought in Judge Robin Rosenbaum, United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

As you can see, I could go on forever about my amazing experience but I suggest taking the time to work for a judge at some point during your law school career. Not only will you learn about the law and work on real cases, but many judges make it their mission to help you learn and to show you as much as possible both inside and outside of their courtroom and chambers.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Marianna Seiler, 3L