What I Did My First Summer-Katherine Chamberland Priest (SJQ 2013): Fellowship with the Mental Health Court and Internship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Salt Lake CIty
Why did you come to law school? (What did you want to do with your degree—this is optional). I came to law school to make a difference (clichéd, I know–everyone put this in their personal statement). I wanted to help someone somewhere and I viewed a JD as the most effective way for me to advocate for other people.
What did you do last summer? I split my summer–I did work through a fellowship with the Mental Health Court the first half of the summer, and then I interned/clerked with the United States Attorney’s Office.
Why did you decide to do that? Well…I had applied for multiple fellowships before anything else I had applied for came through–I created the project with the Mental Health Court first, and then I heard back from the US Attorney’s office (which is something I really wanted to do) so I split the summer. Both options were extremely flexible so it worked out wonderfully!
If you had a job, clinic or fellowship: How did you learn of the opportunity and what was the application and interview process like? For the fellowship, I just went on the College of Law website where all of the scholarship and fellowship opportunities were listed and I applied for everything. I had to create my own project– which was more of a challenge because I wanted to do something that actually mattered–not just go through the motions to get the fellowship. I was interviewed for each fellowship–which was very chill…I interviewed with Dean Dickey and a couple of other panelists for one, and then with the chair of the J.Reuben Clark Society for the other. It was very laid back.
For the US Attorney’s office I sent in my application SUPER early because I was convinced/afraid that all of my classmates had already figured their summers out and I was behind the curve (this was December)…and then I just waited. I found the application online on the US Attorney’s website. I heard from them in the late spring, and just had a phone interview…later I had received an email inviting me to be a clerk. This was also super laid back.
If you had a job, clinic or fellowship: what did you do on a day to day basis? For my fellowship, I worked on research most of my hours–I had created a project with the Mental Health Court to create a participant handbook. I went to Mental Health Court every Monday and then spent the rest of my time interviewing participants, attorneys, judges, etc. to gather the information for the handbook. I also spent a lot of time formatting the handbook and making it useable.
For the US Attorney’s Office, I researched and wrote every day. I also attended court regularly. I was lucky, because there were an unusual amount of trials happening over the summer so I got to spend a lot of time observing trials. For the most part it was research and writing–mostly on search and seizure issues. Super cool work!
What was the best part about what you did over the summer? What did you learn? The best part of my summer was the HUGE amount of different experience I got. I got to create my own project and rub shoulders with some amazing people involved with Mental Health Court and then also participate in VERY interesting criminal prosecution work. I couldn’t have worked at the US Attorney’s Office without the fellowship stipend so I was incredibly fortunate to be able to do both. I learned a huge deal about the justice system in all of its forms, and it really opened my eyes to the huge issue that mental health problems are in the criminal justice system. I also learned a great deal about the Rules of Evidence!
What was your least favorite part (optional)? My least favorite part about the summer was how busy I was. I was working 40 hours a week with my fellowship and internship and also working a part time job in the evening. I didn’t feel like I got the break I needed–I actually felt like starting school was my break and I think something is wrong when you CAN’T wait for school to start!
What advice do you have for the 1L’s who are thinking about what to do this summer? My advice would be to not let the “traditional” 1st summer mindset get to you. I’ll explain–a lot of us have this notion that we should be working at a firm our first summer and get paid…and then you feel like a failure when you are not one of the four that is fortunate enough to receive a paying firm job. There are INCREDIBLE opportunities through the Clinical office and through various internships that you would be selling yourself short to ignore those opportunities. Also, don’t give up. If you want to do something…then DO IT. Don’t let bureaucracy or red tape stop you–I am speaking from personal experience when I say that it is totally worth it to make some noise and do what you want to do. ALSO, my biggest piece of advice is don’t be afraid or ashamed to work for free–every single opportunity I have received has been because of internships I have been willing to take. Free work isn’t glamorous but you can learn some incredible things and it opens a lot of doors for you!
Marianne Schumann (SJQ 2013): Judicial Intern to Justice Matthew Durrant and Law Clerk for Union Pacific Railroad
What did you do last summer? Last summer, I participated in the judicial clinic, worked for Union Pacific Railroad in their legal department, and took a couple of classes.
Why did you decide to do that? I wanted to get a lot of different experiences so I could figure out what area of law I was the most interested in.
If you had a job, clinic or fellowship: How did you learn of the opportunity and what was the application and interview process like? I learned of the judicial clinic through an info session the clinical programs had. I filled out all the necessary forms and got them to the clinical program. Then I waited, and was told that I had been selected by the Utah Supreme Court, to work for Justice Durrant.
For my job at Union Pacific, I checked a few times on Symplicity through the semester and applied to their job posting. I submitted a resume and cover letter to them. As soon as I learned I had an interview, I went and talked to Anneliese and she got me in touch with the person who was clerking at Union Pacific at that time. By talking to the current clerk, I got a feel for the job, its basic requirements and the people I would be working with. This gave me more confidence at the interview. The interview itself was only about 20 minutes, and I got a call the next week offering me the job.
If you had a job, clinic or fellowship: what did you do on a day to day basis? At the Utah Supreme Court, I helped draft opinions, performed research for the clerks, checked citations, joined in conferences with Justice Durrant and his clerks, and listened to oral arguments.
At Union Pacific I did research and drafted memos, and drafted a lot of motions, mostly summary judgment motions.
What was the best part about what you did over the summer? What did you learn? The best part of what I did over the summer was getting involved in a range of different experiences. At the court, I learned a lot about how courts work and what makes a good brief/oral argument. I also learned a lot about writing and researching, which was great. At Union Pacific, I discovered that drafting real summary judgment motions can actually be pretty fun, in a mind-puzzle type way. The best thing about my job was that I improved my legal skills and developed more confidence in them.
What was your least favorite part (optional)? Probably the worst thing about last summer was that I spent almost all of it indoors because I packed my schedule so tightly. I can’t say I entirely regret doing that, because it allowed me to do a lot of things that I wanted to do, but it was a little bit much.
What advice do you have for the 1L’s who are thinking about what to do this summer? Try and get some sort of real experience, whether through a clinic or a job or an internship or something else. Getting real life experience at this stage is invaluable so that you can figure out what you want to do/if you really want to do what you think you want to do. Also, be sure to figure out what your priorities are and plan your time accordingly, balancing how you want to spend your time now with what you want to be able to do in the future.