New Perspectives and Valuable Connections

Students Discuss their Summer Jobs

Law School Building

Law School students spent their summers navigating the legal landscape of the internet, working on the Hawai’i Supreme Court, and examining environmental law from the government and nonprofit perspectives. They explored the criminal and civil sides of the Department of Justice, researched the intersection between business and human rights, compiled due diligence reports in London, England, and more.

Through varied opportunities like these, members of the Classes of 2019 and 2020 applied their classroom experiences to real-world legal issues, sharpening their skills and building lasting relationships along the way. For many students, their summer work experience may confirm a long-standing interest in a particular area of law. For others, it can open their eyes to something new.

At the end of August, we asked a handful second- and third-year students about what they learned, how the Law School prepared them, and what surprised them most about their summer work experiences.

Courtney Albini

Courtney Albini, ‘19

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
For the first portion of the summer, I worked at the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions (HRSP) Section of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division. At HRSP, I drafted pre-trial briefs and memoranda relating to sub-issues within federal conspiracy, money laundering, and sentencing law. For the second portion of the summer, I worked at the Technology and Financial Services Section of the DOJ Antitrust Division. There, I worked with an investigation team, which involved assisting with interviews, drafting memos, and conducting research on the relevant technology industry.

What drew you to this opportunity? 
Given that my most fulfilling experiences have always come during my time in government and public service settings, I entered law school with the dream of eventually serving as a DOJ trial attorney. Therefore, I was honored to have the opportunity to immerse myself in both the criminal and civil sides of the DOJ this summer.

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked? 
I learned that regardless of the issue, the legal profession requires being dynamic and adaptive to the parties involved in a case, any specialized law or procedure within a jurisdiction, and the personality of opposing counsel. Equally, while the American justice system is adversarial by nature, across both the trial and investigation settings, a necessary working relationship must exist among all of the involved parties.

How did the Law School help prepare you? 
My coursework at the Law School has reinforced the importance of striking a balance between final writing products that are concise and understandable, yet forceful and rich in necessary detail. The Law School has also taught me that the foundation of good writing is focused research and a methodical research procedure. On this note, I am particularly grateful that I had the opportunity to take “Advanced Legal Research” during 2L. The course opened my eyes to the depth of resources available to attorneys.

What surprised you most about your experience?
Of course, prior to both internships, I had high expectations that my knowledge base would grow, and I would develop from a professional sense. What I did not anticipate was how much I would grow from a personal sense, based on my interactions with the communities in both offices. Ultimately, the passion the attorneys and paralegals exhibited toward their work was inspiring, and I left the summer knowing this is the type of environment in which I wish to spend my career.

Maheema Haque

Maheema Haque, ‘20

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
I spent my summer at the British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL) as a research intern for the Business and Human Rights program, where I helped with a variety of projects. I summarized and analyzed the effects of statutes in different countries that attempted to prevent human rights abuses in corporate supply chains, wrote a memo on how international investment law principles could help override gender restrictive employment policies in some countries, and took notes at many roundtables. 

What drew you to this opportunity? 
I've always been interested in human rights issues, but my 1L spring elective (Elements of Business Law) opened up my eyes to the world of corporate law. I wanted an internship that could combine the two and help me learn about how and when these two very different (or so I thought) areas of law intersect. I knew I wanted to spend my 1L summer abroad, and the research and practitioners at BIICL—all leaders in their field—solidified my decision to go.

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked? 
I learned how much I've yet to learn about the law. I came in with a narrow idea of what I wanted to do. Instead, I was exposed to people working on maritime, media, and white collar law (and everything in between), and found all of their research areas incredibly interesting. I also learned that these different areas of law are really not that far apart. The collaboration between colleagues on projects that would have wide-reaching effects showed me that the skills I learned in law school would serve me well no matter where I ended up. 

How did the Law School help prepare you? 
Legal Research and Writing and Elements of Business Law were two really useful classes, since those were exactly the skills I needed in a legal research-based internship. Beyond that, I found the resources and training provided by the Library to be very handy. It was good to know that whenever I needed to look up an obscure European law journal or something similar, I already knew how to navigate the variety of databases and exactly what to look for. 

What surprised you most about your summer work experience?
I was surprised by how much I learned in a short amount of time. The work was interesting and substantive, and the everyday conversations I had with my supervisors and colleagues taught me so much about not only how legal systems differ between the US and Europe, but how different areas of law interact and work together. Also, BIICL has a tradition of having cakes and cookies at their weekly staff meetings, where people brought in sweets and baked goods from home and their recent trips abroad. I am now much more cultured in my taste in desserts.

Imara McMillan

Imara McMillan, ‘20

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
I worked at a tech company called Cloudflare. Their service speeds up and protects nearly 10,000,000 websites on the internet. Therefore when they turn on features like Universal SSL (making sure every Cloudflare customer has a fancy green lock in Chrome) it has a huge impact! I did a little bit of everything there, from transactional work like reviewing contracts and redlining internal documents, to policy research on topics like intermediary liability and privacy.

What drew you to this opportunity?
I was fortunate enough to be an SEO Scholar at a firm the summer before law school, so I was looking for two things when it came to my summer experience. First, I wanted to work on issues relating to privacy in order to expand on my previous summer experience. Second, I wanted to live in the Bay Area to see if it was a space I wanted to practice in. Cloudflare was perfect for that.

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked?
I learned a lot more about the intricacies of the internet than I thought I would. Not because I didn’t think I would learn about the internet, but rather because I didn’t realize there was that much to learn! I also learned that I want to place client counseling at the forefront of my legal practice, which means potentially not doing litigation—not what I was expecting to say the least.

How did the Law School help prepare you?
Most of my professors at the Law School were upfront about the fact that not all issues and cases had satisfying answers. As it turns out, jurisdiction gets messy when you are talking about cloud computing, and there aren’t always straightforward legal answers when it comes to data that can move wherever at any point in time.

What surprised you most about your experience?
I was surprised by the number of legal issues relating to the internet that still do not have good, legislative answers. Considering the fact that the internet in many ways began in the United States, I expected more. On a personal level, as I alluded to above, I learned that I may not want to focus on litigation. There is a whole world out there beyond trial advocacy. I am looking forward to learning more.

Colin Parts

Colin Parts, ‘20

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
I split my summer between the Environment & Land Law Sections at the California Attorney General's Oakland office and the Climate and Air Group at the Environmental Defense Fund's Boulder office. My work at the California AG’s office was entirely litigation focused and involved long projects that allowed me to focus on many aspects of two main cases. At EDF’s office I combined litigation work with policy advocacy work, and hopped between many different projects in order to get a view of all of the different things going on at the office.

What drew you to this opportunity? 
Working on the government and the nonprofit side of environmental law seemed like a great way for me to get multiple exposures to the type of law I am interested in practicing long term. The offices, working styles, and underlying subject material were different but I knew they would have enough overlap to give me a better picture of what environmental law work looks like.

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked? 
To some extent I already knew that environmental law encourages practitioners to think intersectionally, but I was impressed by how necessary that type of mindset is. Since the environment touches everything we do, environmental law and environmental issues pop up all over the place and ignoring those intersections makes for bad legal advocacy.

How did the Law School help prepare you? 
Because the Law School really forces you to think about all aspects of an argument, and rewards making unconventional arguments (provided they are strong ones), I felt prepared to jump into some of the tougher legal questions I faced and think outside of the box when trying to answer them.

What surprised you most about your experience?
I was surprised by the amount of coordination that state agencies and environmental nonprofits have achieved over the years. While some of their coordinated efforts seem to be in response to the current EPA leadership, I was told that a lot of their connections are longstanding ties that well predate the late 2010s.

Alex Robledo

Alex Robledo, ‘20

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
I worked as a judicial extern for Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court. There, I analyzed applications for certiorari and drafted memos for the chief justice recommending whether the court should accept or deny a given case. I also conducted research on a range of legal issues and compiled case records and documents for the chief justice’s use during oral argument. When I wasn’t working in chambers, I had the opportunity to sit in on numerous talks given by judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

What drew you to this opportunity?
I really enjoyed my first year Legal Research and Writing class, and I wanted a summer experience that afforded me ample opportunities to refine and build upon those skills. Also, I had never been exposed to appellate level work, and believed this would be an exciting opportunity to work on interesting legal issues that were distilled from cases on the trial level. Finally, the chief justice is an alum of the Law School, and he seemed like a terrific person to both work for and learn from. In the end, the externship surpassed all of my expectations!

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked?
My externship confirmed my interest in eventually practicing litigation. I enjoyed the process of getting acclimated to a new case, wrestling with the legal issues that are involved, and crafting clear, concise arguments in order to solve them. I also learned that there is often no case or authority that is completely “on point” for the position you’re arguing—whether it’s because you are dealing with unique facts or because the court has never encountered the issue before, or both—and in those instances, you have to be creative in presenting your arguments.

How did the Law School help prepare you?
The Law School taught me how to think like an effective lawyer. My 1L year was the most challenging academic year I have had thus far, but it was also the most rewarding, because I learned from extremely talented professors. My favorite class was Elements of the Law with Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, and even though I was afraid of his cold calls, I credit his embrace of the Socratic method with helping me learn early on how to approach problems from multiple perspectives, and articulate my thoughts with little preparation.

What surprised you most about your experience?
I was most surprised by how much I learned, and how much fun I had along the way. Although my 1L year did a good job of preparing me, I also learned a lot of practical skills from the very first day of my externship. I learned how to be an “expert” on a given case and talk through its implications in detail with the chief justice. I learned how to be flexible when a new assignment came up and I had to meet a short deadline. My summer kept me plenty busy, but I also got to work with incredibly talented and friendly people. It still amazes me how quickly my externship flew by!

Jonathan Whitcomb

Jonathan Whitcomb, ‘19

Where did you work this summer, and what did you do there?
I spent the summer at Linklaters in the firm’s London office, where I was primarily staffed on transactions involving non-US companies issuing equity or debt under the SEC’s Rule 144A and Regulation S exemptions. My responsibilities ranged from compiling due diligence reports to drafting the “Risk Factors” in a bond prospectus. I also attended training sessions on topics within Capital Markets, participated in an M&A mock auction, and assisted on several pro bono projects.

What drew you to this opportunity? 
I worked in Ireland prior to law school, and I was keen to find a legal job that would take me overseas again. During 1L, I had a great phone call with an associate at Linklaters, and that piqued my interest in the firm. I was impressed by the opportunity to work in London on a variety of transactions for companies based all around the world. Additionally, the US lawyers at Linklaters seemed to share a global mindset that resonated strongly with my own.

What did you learn about yourself or the area in which you worked? 
I learned a lot about securities law and what goes into a debt or equity offering, especially because I hadn’t taken Securities Regulation yet. More personally, I realized how important communication and organization are to a successful legal career. It took about half of the summer to understand how to handle all the different tasks being thrown at me and how to keep everyone updated on my progress.  

How did the Law School help prepare you? 
I was very thankful for my experience working in the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship, because it helped me grow comfortable with transactional documents prior to working at a large law firm. In my second week at Linklaters, I was asked to compare the key provisions in a set of 8 bond indentures. If I hadn’t worked at the IJ Clinic during 2L, I’m sure that experience would have been much more intimidating.

What surprised you most about your summer work experience?
England making it to the semi-final of the World Cup was a big surprise! But also, the camaraderie amongst the US team in London was better than expected. It’s a small team of around 25 lawyers, and I think the shared experience of living abroad created a unique bond across the group.   

 

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