Summer Series is coming to a close (did this summer fly by or what?!) and I am so thrilled to share Nadia’s summer with all of you. Nadia decided to try something new to expose herself to different areas of the law, to re-align her purpose after 1L year, and decided to spend her summer as a judicial clerk and is sharing the nuts and bolts of her day-to-day. This is immensely helpful info if you’re a prelaw or just unsure about what clerks do (I definitely did not consider it when I was in school and had no idea how great it looks on a resume! so don’t be like me–be like Nadia):
How did I get this internship?
While most of my classmates had an idea of what they wanted to do over the summer, I waited until I received my final fall semester grades to start planning. It wasn’t exactly procrastination; it was more so the overwhelming wave of doubt that had surfaced during finals week. Then something clicked the week before spring semester, and I decided to start looking for summer internship opportunities through my school’s career website. My plan has always been to become an immigration attorney which began about 10 years ago when my mom started her process for naturalization. As a child of an immigrant, I was her liaison, her translator and overall her representative when it came to any legal matters. Therefore, I opted for internships that would give me exposure to different specializations to reassure my interest in immigration law. I grew up in the Chicago suburb area and was familiar with multiple organizations that had helped my family during our transition from Peru to the U.S. I knew that they were always looking for volunteers and thus I decided to start my journey by searching for internships at organizations such as World Relief, Latinos Progresando, and ICIIR (The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights). However a week later, after I had prepared a customized cover letter for each organization, I came across a judicial externship posting. At first, I didn’t put much thought into it, but I have never turned down an opportunity, so I decided to apply for it. I was then selected for the externship after a phone interview, in-person interview and a follow-up email. For someone that didn’t have the slightest idea of what I wanted to do after my 1L year, I would say I was very lucky. Also, it was the fact that my perseverance had forced me to apply to internships daily for approximately two weeks.
What did I do at my externship?
The Will County Judicial Externship Program consisted of shadowing and working alongside judges at the Joliet courthouse. Every two weeks, the judges would rotate the externs. This allowed each extern to experience different courts. My rotation included: juvenile court, divorce court, small claims, and felonies. My daily tasks consisted of shadowing a judge and taking notes. During a recess or at the end of the day, I was able to review the notes I had taken with the judge and ask any questions about the outcome of each case. Depending on the judge, I had to do some research beforehand to understand the legal procedure and was eventually assigned brief memos. As a group, we were given a tour of two appellate courts in Illinois (1st district and 3rd District), the new Will County Courthouse and the Will County Adult Detention Facility.
What did I learn?
I saw the direct impact the judicial system has on the general public. I saw how it not only affected the defendants but also their children, spouses, and counsels. I distinctly remember thinking in class how difficult it was to relate to the theory of law. It was enlightening to read about case law and how it had transformed throughout the years. In reality, the law doesn’t apply neatly into every case. Sometimes the circumstances surrounding the case must also be taken into consideration especially where there is no precedent. I started this internship to learn how to present myself in front of a judge. For most of my childhood, I had been very timid and completely petrified of speaking in public. It was solely for that reason, that I had held back from pursuing law until now. Standing next to these accomplished judges who had chosen to guide me, left me with a sense of belonging that I knew I had earned. I think ultimately, the greatest lesson I have learned from this externship is that the field of law is rapidly changing and should accurately reflect the demographics of its population to better serve its constituents. In other words, whether some may like it or not, the field of law needs more future WOC attorneys like me.