In the months before summer break, law students compete for the coveted judicial internships which provide them with the opportunity to fine-tune their writing and research skills, observe court cases, and make the connections that often lead to full-time employment.
This summer, more than 40 Regent Law students enjoyed judicial internships nationwide, from Courts of Appeal in Arizona and Texas to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Regardless of where they served, Regent’s judicial interns agree that their experiences provided them with exceptional skills, training, and an opportunity to observe the judicial process first-hand.
Kevin Hoffman, lead articles editor for the Regent University Law Review and vice chairman for the Trial Advocacy Board, interned for Federal District Judge Mark Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia. Hoffman valued Judge Davis’ mentorship in particular.
“Judge Davis took a special interest in ensuring that my summer was a positive experience and in sharing many lessons he had learned in his years of practicing law and serving as a judge,” Hoffman says.
Chelsea Schlittenhart, Moot Court Board chairperson and a Regent University Law Review staffer, met Judge John C. Gemmill of the Arizona Court of Appeals at Regent Law’s annual Hassell Competition, a connection that led to a judicial externship with the judge. Schlittenhart drafted opinions for criminal and family law, unemployment board, and Anders cases before presenting them to the judge. She also attended judicial conferences.
Joshua Smith, managing editor of the Regent University Law Review and treasurer for the Federalist Society, interned for Justice Jeff Brown of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals. He says this internship, combined with previous internships with Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm of the Southern District of Texas and Texas District Judge Edwin Denman, were excellent opportunities for him to learn to work more efficiently and clearly communicate complex ideas.
“I have observed the importance of being attentive to details, how clear and concise writing will capture a reader’s attention, and that only a thorough and thoughtful approach to one’s case will sufficiently prepare an attorney for court,” Smith explains. “These ‘behind-the-scenes’ experiences have prepared me to better understand what judges expect from attorneys, and I believe these internships have also prepared me to better meet those expectations.”
That’s a statement echoed by Law Review Managing Editor Sharon Kerk, judicial extern for Judge Lawrence Leonard of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“I learned first-hand how to practice law on a daily basis and learned what to do and not to do from observing attorneys,” Kerk says.
Schlittenhart, Smith, Kerk, and Hoffman graduate next year, and their internships have already helped some of them secure employment. Schlittenhart will clerk for Judge Gemmill starting in August 2014, and Kerk will clerk for Judge Leonard from 2014 to 2015.