Co-Curricular Teams and Journals – How to Prep for Success Starting In Your 1L Year

Co-curricular activities are a very important part of your law school experience. By being a member of a co-curricular journal, the Mock Trial Team or Moot Court Team you will develop vital skills that will help you succeed in your future legal endeavors while also receiving college credit for your efforts. Many employers look for involvement in these types of organizations when hiring interns and associates. There are various ways to effectively prepare during your 1L year to receive an invitation to join one of these organizations.

Mock Trial

The best way to prepare to make the Florida State University College of Law Mock Trial team at the end of your 1L year is to join the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) or Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) mock trial teams at the beginning of your 1L year because they allow students to compete in mock trial competitions as 1Ls. By participating in the BLSA or PAD teams, you will become familiar with the intricacies of mock trial competitions while also gaining invaluable experience that will give you an advantage when you are trying out for the Florida State Law team.

Moot Court

Your 1L appellate brief will be one of the most important factors in your Moot Court tryout. I would recommend dedicating a lot of time to researching and writing your brief, getting input from your legal writing professor and completing your brief early. The Moot Court team will grade your written brief, which is why it is so important to write a great one! You also will be required to argue both sides of the issues included in your brief. This will be made easier if you finish writing it early and have time to become familiar with those issues.

Journals

By doing well during your 1L year you will improve your chances of becoming a member of the Florida State University Law Review, Journal of Transnational Law & Policy or Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law. There are two ways to accomplish this:

Grading-On: The journals operate their grade-on policies in a slightly different manner. Florida State University Law Review invites the top students from the entire 1L class, while the Journal of Transnational Law & Policy and Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law invite the top students of each legal writing class. The students with the best grades overall and who excelled in their legal writing classes have the best chance of grading-on to a journal.

Writing-On: There are two write-on competitions: winter and summer. For both, students are given a prompt and have to write a case note answering a proposed question. This requires them to use writing and citation skills learned in their legal writing classes and illustrates how important it is to diligently work on one’s legal writing memo and appellate brief. The Journal of Transnational Law & Policy and the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law allow 1L’s to compete in the winter write-on competition and all of the journals participate in the summer write-on competition.

The Florida State University Business Review, while not a co-curricular activity, also offers students opportunities to grade-on or write-on. They follow the same procedures as the Journal of Transnational Law & Policy and the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law and participate in both the winter and summer write-on competitions.

For all of these activities, current and prospective students are encouraged to reach out to current members to get more specific advice on how to succeed in making it onto a team or journal. If one is extremely passionate about joining one of the teams or journals, it is also never too early to start preparing.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Abby Altman, 3L

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

Criminal Law Summer Clinics, Externships, and Internships Come in Many Different Packages

Students interested in criminal law have many different opportunities to gain experience while in law school. Many Florida State University College of Law students take advantage of these opportunities to make themselves more competitive when seeking employment after law school. Whether prosecution or defense, public organization or private law firm, many different options exist, even within the same organization. Each of these five students had completely different summer experiences, and three of them were within the same organization – the State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Abby Altman, 3L

During the summer following my 1L year I participated in the Florida State University College of Law Criminal Externship program as a legal intern with the State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee, Florida working primarily on criminal appeals cases. Through the externship program I was able to immerse myself in the criminal law world while also establishing a professional relationship with my faculty advisor, Professor Krieger.

I was initially anxious about my externship because I was not really sure about what to expect. I quickly realized that my first-year courses had prepared me very well. Confidence gained at networking noshes and by participating in oral arguments in my legal writing classes allowed me to feel comfortable and prepared me immensely for this professional experience. The skills I learned also became immediately relevant. The attorney I was paired with assigned me to draft different motions and responses each day. He was also eager to help me develop different legal arguments in support of the State’s cases, allowed me to sit with him at the bench in court, and let me take advantage of opportunities to shadow other attorneys in the office and watch any case in court that interested me.

As part of the externship program I also submitted a weekly journal detailing my experiences as well as how I was feeling throughout the entire experience. Professor Krieger addressed every one of my journal entries and made sure that I was happy and comfortable with my placement. He also provided articles every few weeks that addressed different concerns in the work place as well as mental health issues in the legal world. I summarized the articles, detailed my personal experiences and submitted my responses. I truly appreciated the resource Professor Krieger was throughout the summer. I truly appreciated having a faculty member who was genuinely concerned about whether or not I was enjoying my externship placement and that I was getting to experience everything I wanted to during my placement.

Justin Schneider, Class of 2016

During the summer after my 2L year, I worked as a Certified Legal Intern (CLI) with the State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee, Florida in the County Court, Misdemeanor Division. Being a CLI allowed me to do anything a practicing attorney could do as long as I was being supervised by a practicing attorney. This allowed me to speak to prosecute cases, speak to a judge on record, and argue my position in court. I chose the misdemeanor division specifically because it allowed me to argue cases in front of a jury and to speak on the record. I also had the opportunity to conduct all parts of a trial, which is uncommon, even for CLI’s.

Every day was a different challenge and was more exciting than the day prior. Four out of five days each week I spent some time in court. On a typical day I spent my first hour reviewing files and was in court with my supervising attorney by 9:00 a.m. as the judges would take the bench. While in court, I would present cases to the judge and defendant on behalf of the State of Florida and, when applicable, offer plea deals. On these days I presented anywhere from 30-50 cases and would then return to my office to work my files. On actual trial days, usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I would be in the courtroom during the proceedings trying cases against licensed attorneys which included arguing motions, arguing case law, and interviewing and cross examining witnesses. When trials were not scheduled, I would spend my time reviewing cases, researching legal issues and case law, contacting officers and witnesses, making plea offers, ordering and filing discovery and working with defense attorneys to get them to accept my plea deals.

A common misconception that people have regarding criminal cases is preparation time. Most people think that attorneys prepare for months or years for cases, which can be true. However, sometimes I was given a case set for trial with only a few hours to prepare. In these instances, the attorney would sit me down and go over the facts of the case with me. The licensed attorneys would have already done the preparation work for the trial and then they would let me try it. I also had my own cases that I had to prepare for as well, but because I was only there for the summer, I definitely did not have months or years to prepare. All in all, I got to try several jury trials and several bench trials. This experienced was unmatched and it really gave me an opportunity to use the skills I had learned and hone these skills for the future.

Betsy Whittinghill, Class of 2016

During the summer after my 2L year I was employed at a criminal defense law firm. I found the position through the Placement Office’s online job postings. During my time there I wrote numerous motions and pleadings and did countless hours of legal research. Because the firm was small, I also received personalized feedback and guidance on a regular basis and my supervisor was able to take on the role of mentor. I also had the opportunity to accompany my supervisor to several hearings, trials and depositions. This was a rewarding experience and I will be pursuing a career in criminal law.

Catherine Lockhart, 3L

I spent the summer after my 1L year interning at the State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee, Florida. It was an absolutely wonderful experience. As someone who is interested in criminal law, and aspires to be a prosecutor, I could not have spent my summer in a more fascinating and informative way. I worked under an amazing assistant state attorney who was also the felony division head. I was able to view cases from an insider’s perspective through the prosecution of violent crimes that had occurred in the Tallahassee community. I not only gained additional experience in legal research, but also had the opportunity to view the criminal justice system up close.

The legal writing and research courses at the College of Law really helped prepare me for this experience and truly expanded the scope of my research skills. It taught me to be a faster and more efficient researcher regardless of whether or not I had a few hours, a day or two, or a month to prepare for a case. The best part of my internship was being able to work closely with my supervising attorney and with the other prosecutors in the office. They took time from their very busy days to show me their process and to answer all of my questions. I even had the opportunity to visit the Tallahassee Police Department and was able to interact with investigating officers in order to see how the legal process works before a defendant ever reaches the courtroom.

Being able to view evidence and interact directly with witnesses also helped me better understand the trial process. Much of my time was spent watching trials and observing how the prosecution and defense interacted with the witnesses, the judge, the jury, and how they each presented evidence. After observing everything from voir dire (the questioning of prospective jurors) to sentencing, I was able to piece together a more complete picture of the criminal justice system.

Shelby Loveless, Class of 2016

In February of my 2L year I was researching opportunities to gain work experience over the summer and received an e-mail from the Externship Office related to an available position with the United States (U.S.) Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee. While viewing their website, I was drawn to the “News” feed about criminals who had recently been sentenced and immediately proceeded to apply for the externship. Once I was accepted I sent in my application packet to the Department of Justice. After patiently waiting, I eventually received my Notice of Clearance and was ready to start my externship.

My first day was both exciting and intimidating. Walking into the Federal Courthouse, which is within walking distance of the College of Law, my heart began pounding as the security guards looked at me suspiciously. Upon arrival, my supervisor and I met, he took me around the office to meet everyone and he told me a little bit about each of the attorneys. This really calmed my nerves because the more people I met, the more I noticed how friendly everyone was.

Throughout the summer I worked on various aspects of a federal criminal cases. I researched topics ranging from interpretation of statutes to factual nuances. I drafted sample indictments and sentencing memorandums. I drafted an appellate brief dealing with amendments to sentencing guidelines. Overall, I received a well-rounded introduction into how diverse the position of an Assistant United States Attorney really is. My law school coursework prepared me for everything that was thrown at me. From Evidence to Criminal Procedure to Professional Responsibility, I realized all of the suggested courses I packed into my 2L year had been worth it and I would not have made it through this experience without them.

Another aspect of the externship that was invaluable was the easy access to court proceedings. The United States Attorney’s Office is housed in the Courthouse, so I could easily walk downstairs 10 minutes before each hearing. Over the course of nine weeks I saw multiple first appearances, bail hearings, probation revocation hearings, a trial, jury selection, sentencing and much more. Every time I entered the courtroom, I would see something an attorney did that I could learn from or something I knew I never wanted to say or do. All of the United States attorneys were consistently prepared, were wonderful orators and excellent advocates for the U.S. Government.

I had no idea just how rewarding this experience would be. I also never thought I would have so much autonomy with the assignments and feedback from the attorneys. I always had an attorney who would talk with me about an issue, let me sit in on a meeting or discuss law school with me. I came away from the experience with more knowledge about legal issues, more confidence in my abilities and a multitude of great professional connections. I highly recommend this externship to anyone who is interested in criminal law and the federal court system.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Abby Altman, 3L

Student ambassadors for the College of Law Justin Schneider, Class of 2016

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Betsy Whittinghill, Class of 2016

Lockhart, Catherine.jpg Catherine Lockhart, 3L

Loveless, Shelby.jpg Shelby Loveless, Class of 2016

Get Legal Experience Over the Summer – And Have Some Fun Too!

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!

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Amanda Qadri, 3L

Balancing A Summer with Both Legal Experience and a Learning Experience Through Study Abroad Can Be Done…and Can Be Rewarding

Taking advantage of opportunities as a law student should include your summer months as well as the fall and spring semesters. Last summer, the College of Law students below took this to heart for the summer between their 1L and 2L years. Each participated in a legal program, internship or job during the first part of their summer and then spent the second part as participants in Florida State University College of Law’s Summer Program in Law at Oxford.

First Part – Experience

 Aqueelah Mitchell

I spent the first part of my summer last year interning with a judge in Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, Florida. Having participated as a member of the Moot Court team, I was very interested in exploring appellate advocacy and this internship gave me exposure to appellate work from a judge’s perspective. I was challenged by exposure to cases in areas I had not yet studied and by having to help serve as the decision maker when weighing both sides of an argument instead of just playing the role of an advocate for one side. This opportunity really helped me recognize the importance of being flexible.

I never imagined I would be spending my first law school summer working with a judge, but I definitely learned how important networking and having an open mind can be. I also had not realized just how small the legal community was in South Florida. I discovered this opportunity through a family member of a friend of a friend who had heard that I was in law school and asked the judge about having a summer intern. I also assumed that I would be spending this time at home in Miami and the idea of an internship in a neighboring county was not something I had event considered.

Grey Dodge

Last summer I was lucky enough to have three weeks off before I had to be back in Tallahassee to work on the Florida State University Summer for Undergraduates Program (SUG). So, after the spring semester I went back home, visited family, took a trip to Disney World and went out on the boat. Basically, I did everything other than studying.

When I returned to Tallahassee, I was met by 60+ undergraduate students from all over the country. SUG puts these students through a four-week, full-immersive law school program. Participants take classes with law school professors, attend presentations from lawyers practicing in various areas, hear from different campus offices about preparing for law school and even visit brick and mortar law firms all over the city. In my role, I mentored student participants, helped facilitate the running of the program and had a great time doing it.

Lauren Thompson

Last summer I worked for a law firm that handled personal injury cases. Being very interested in this area, I could not wait to get started and get some exposure to in this area. Fortunately, I got that and so much more! I attended depositions and mediations and performed research in multiple areas of law, including areas that I was not familiar. What I discovered by doing this was that there are other areas that interest me, including labor and employment law and commercial litigation. Following this experience my advice to anyone studying law is to not be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone, even if you already think you know exactly what area you want to practice. It cannot hurt and will either help confirm your choice or open your eyes to other possibilities.

Rob Sylvester

In the first part of my summer last year I worked as an intern for a county criminal judge. Interning for a judge was surprisingly fun. For someone who is not from a family of legal professionals this was a great opportunity to see what occurs both inside and outside of the courtroom. It also offered tremendous insight into the work of prosecutors, defense attorneys (both private and public), the trial process in general and some of the legal issues that arise. During this time I was able to conduct legal research and even wrote a judicial order.

Second Part – Summer Program in Law at Oxford

Aqueelah Mitchell

I spent the latter part of my summer as a participant in the Summer Program in Law at Oxford. As optimistic and open as I am, I was at first concerned about traveling so far from home to take classes at Oxford. I now know I had nothing at all to worry about. There is something wonderful about being taken out of your comfort zone and becoming the foreigner in another place. I learned a lot about myself, the culture of England and others. I even expanded my role as the international traveler by visiting France and Italy as well. The program itself is truly amazing, well organized and I experienced some great professors and classes.

I will never forget my time spent in Oxford. While there I enjoyed my 23rd birthday, cut my hair, discovered that shopping in the UK is absolutely wonderful, and learned new lingo. It all came to an end much too early and I was not ready to go, but I definitely left with a greater appreciation for life.

Grey Dodge

The second, and best part of my summer was studying abroad as a participant in the Summer Program in Law at Oxford. One of my fellow law student and I went over early, flew into Rome, and spent nine days traveling around Italy before eventually making our way to Oxford. Once there, it was hard to differentiate between class work and a vacation. Oxford is easily one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. Every day was like waking up and going to class in a castle. We took courses from Oxford Dons and College of Law professors. It was a six-week program and I can say without a doubt, was one of the best six weeks of my life. From exploring the City of Oxford and seeing a Shakespearean play in Stratford-upon-Avon, to sightseeing in London and learning about English legal history, it was an unforgettable summer.

Lauren Thompson

The second half of my summer was definitely an experience I will truly never forget, as I spent it as a participant in the Summer Program in Law at Oxford. Not only did I get to travel to four countries I had never visited before, but I also took classes with actual Oxford Dons and with our very own Professor Téson. Throughout this experience I was able to travel while also learning about the different legal systems of the countries I visited. Two of the courses I really enjoyed were English Legal History and European Union Law. I had never studied abroad or even traveled abroad before, so I was thankful for the opportunity and am so glad that I decided to do it. I know this experience will truly be invaluable for me now and in the future.

Rob Sylvester

The rest of my summer was spent abroad as a participant in the Summer Program in Law at Oxford. For anyone looking for adventure, while earning college credit, this is a great program. It is also an excellent opportunity for anyone who has not traveled abroad before. Not only do you get to stay at the world-renowned Oxford University, but the program also provides for and encourages travel and exploration outside of Oxford. While gaining exposure to a different culture and experiencing England’s rich history first-hand, I also was able to make new friends and amass some unforgettable memories.

In Conclusion

Aqueelah Mitchell

I began last summer concerned that about prospects for landing a job after graduation. I ended the summer with new legal knowledge, a wealth of cultural experiences and assurance that I was going down the right path for my legal career.

Grey Dodge

When I finished my final law school examination last spring, a grueling 3-hour experiences that left me dazed and confused, I spent the rest of that day watching reruns of The Office and eating BOGO Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream I had purchased from Publix. At that time I had a lot to look forward to during the summer, but it was not as clear to me then. By the conclusion of summer I had come to realized just how valuable my summer experiences had been and just how much I had enjoyed them all.

Lauren Thompson

Last summer was a period of growth for me in more ways than one. I have normally been someone who has every aspect of my life planned out in advance. This included choosing the path to law school early and not looking back. However, my experiences last summer helped me realize how important it is to be flexible. Before summer I thought I would practice civil litigation law, and specifically personal injury law. My overall summer experience working, traveling and learning about other areas of law opened my eyes to options I may not have considered before. It also got me to start asking; “How can we know what we really enjoy if we do not explore other options?”

Rob Sylvester

I am extremely lucky to have been able to participate in the opportunities I did last summer. I encourage anyone thinking about what to do during the summer to explore your options and secure an opportunity (or opportunities). For me the process started immediately after the fall semester and final plans did not materialize until almost the end of the spring semester. I sent in many applications to different jobs and summer programs and most were denied. However, it all turned out to my satisfaction and was a very rewarding summer.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Aquellah Mitchell, 2L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Grey Dodge, 2L

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Lauren Thompson, 2L

College of Law, Student Ambassadors. Rob Sylvester, 2L

My First Law School Summer Vacation: From Distress to Delight

After my first year of law school I was very happy with how everything had turned out. I had been elected vice president of our Black Law Students Association (BLSA), had worked as a Student Ambassador since the beginning of the spring semester and I had been crowned Miss Tallahassee. On top of that, I was pleased with my academic performance and was active in my church. However, we were told that legal experience, employment and networking during the summer were important, even if we were taking some classes, so landing a summer job was high on my list of priorities.

While I explored different options, I did not have much luck at first. I participated in an on-campus interview (OCI) with one law firm and thought my interview went great. This was reinforced by the fact that I received a thank you note from the attorney that interviewed me even before I had the chance to send one. I did not get the job, though. I had also met an attorney from the sports industry at an organization lunch during the school year who encouraged me to apply for their summer internship opportunities. He had even offered to walk my resume into their hiring department himself and another contact of mine had arranged for me to talk to the company vice president. I thought I had that one in the bag until I received the rejection letter a month later.

By this point I was really discouraged. I did not understand why I was not getting any offers. I felt like I had the grades, the personality and enough documented leadership and involvement to qualify me for jobs in a variety of areas. So, I decided to enroll in a summer law class and began the on-line event management program offered through the Graduate School at Florida State.

A few weeks later, I was encouraged by Dean Ingram in our Office of Student Affairs to apply for a positions as a mentor for the Florida State University College of Law Summer for Undergraduates (SUG) Program. I submitted the application and got the job. I was very excited because the job included event planning, working with undergraduate students and they were going to pay me! Knowing that it would only be for four weeks, I continued my job search for something to do for the rest of the summer after the program ended.

I really enjoyed my time as a mentor for SUG. I was able to interact with faculty, staff, prospective and current students and even a lot of distinguished alumni who came to visit with the students. So, it also became an opportunity to grow my legal network and gain new perspectives on how to approach my legal education. I also participated in behind-the-scenes tours of the Florida Capitol, seminars with alumni and attorneys and luncheons with faculty and College of Law deans. By chance, I ended up having a conversation with one of my first year professors that turned into an offer to work for him as a research assistant after SUG ended.

I was also offered a job clerking for my BLSA Mock Trial Coach at the Florida Department of Business and Regulation (DBPR) Office of the General Counsel. I started working there too after SUG ended and got a lot of experience drafting administrative complaints, closing orders, motions, correspondence and other legal documents.

As it turns out, my first law school summer ended up being full of many different experiences that were applicable to various areas of my life and future legal career. After the summer ended, I continued working at DBPR and also started working as an assistant to the Director of Membership and Marketing at the Tallahassee Museum.

If you do not get that dream job you thought you would for the summer, do not give up! Just remember that there are other options out there, so keep trying and be open to opportunities you might not have first considered. If your experience is anything like mine, the opportunities you land just might end up being more valuable to you than the one you wanted.

Student Ambassadors for College of Law Lauryn A. Collier, 2L