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What Are Judicial Internships Really Like?
Harley Clement ’19 by Moakley Courthouse in Boston

Get an insider look at judicial internships from law students who have been there.

Imagine being a law student and having an esteemed judge ask for your opinion on a real-world case. It sounds like a dream, but it’s often the reality for judicial interns.

Judicial internships are rare and coveted opportunities among law students: they mean hands-on experience in some of the most demanding and exciting legal environments, working directly with judges. If your career aspirations including becoming a judge someday, a judicial internship can be a great step on that path too.

But what is life really like inside those hallowed halls? What do judicial interns actually do? (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot.)

Here, New England Law | Boston students share their real-life responsibilities as judicial interns—plus tips for other students aspiring to become judicial interns as well.

Harley Clement ’19

Harley-ClementJudicial Internship: Honors Judicial Intern with Justice Kimberly S. Budd of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution: University of Central Florida, BS in Psychology, BA in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication
Hometown: Kissimmee, Florida

What did you do during your judicial internship?

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to complete a judicial internship with Justice Kimberly S. Budd of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") through New England's Honors Judicial Internship Program.

A judicial internship is a fantastic way to develop your research and writing skills and the only way to see “behind the scenes" of the judicial decision-making process and play a part in determining what the law is. A judicial intern also benefits from observing court proceedings and seeing what effective advocacy looks like in practice.

In Justice Budd's chambers I was given responsibility for a variety of substantive assignments, including making preliminary determinations on applications for further appellate review, drafting case summaries and recitation memoranda, and even working on four opinions. These assignments also exposed me to a wide variety of practice areas covering everything from the Uniform Commercial Code to homicide cases. Additionally, I was able to observe oral argument during the SJC's sitting week, which was especially interesting during the Michelle Carter and Aaron Hernandez appeals.

The typical day of a judicial intern will vary depending on what court the intern works in and his or her judge's preferences, but I think it’s safe to say that no matter where you end up, the typical day is going to consist of a lot of research and writing. In my experience, weeks and sometimes even months are then taken over by the editing process. Each of my assignments was edited by the clerks, re-written, re-edited, sent to the judge, re-edited again, and so on for as long as it took to produce a perfect final version. This process was one of the most valuable parts of the internship because it taught me how to write succinctly while still being persuasive.

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

A judicial internship is not just a great way to develop your legal skills, it is also a great way to develop relationships in the legal community. Take the time to connect with your clerks and your judge. If you do, they will be great mentors throughout your career.         

Why did you choose New England Law?

I chose New England Law for a few reasons: first was location! I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in health law and felt that New England Law’s proximity to some of the world's leading health care institutions would be helpful when searching for internships—and it definitely was. I was able to make connections at top hospitals in the area through the school's alumni network, complete a fellowship at a local health system, and clerk at a medical malpractice defense firm. I am currently interning at the United States Attorneys' Office prosecuting health care fraud and abuse.

Second was the community feeling I got when I toured the school. My undergraduate university is the second largest in the country, with over 50,000 students; I really wanted a more personal experience in law school. In May I took a tour of the school and saw that all of the students knew each other and seemed to be enjoying themselves, even during final exam season! Here at New England Law I know all of my classmates, my professors know my name, and I have made some life-long friends.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

After graduation I am returning home to Central Florida where I hope to secure a position in health law.

Gray Brotherton ’19

gray-brothertonJudicial Internship: Judicial Intern with Justice Kimberly S. Budd of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA in Political Science
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

What did you do during your judicial internship?

In the fall semester of my third year of law school, I completed a judicial internship with Justice Budd of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. It was an incredibly rewarding experience.

I was able to evaluate petitions for review, write bench memoranda in preparation of oral arguments, and attend these arguments in person. Also, I worked closely with Justice Budd and her clerks to draft sections of various opinions. It was a great opportunity to sharpen my research and writing skills in an environment that many legal professionals never experience. It was also a personally rewarding opportunity because I knew I was contributing to an important function of the legal system.

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

Working for a judge requires strong research and writing skills, so interested students should be sure that their writing sample demonstrates the necessary expertise. Similarly, it helps to be a member of the Law Review and earn top grades in Legal Research and Writing courses. It is essential to have a robust knowledge of the substantive and procedural law that you encounter in your required courses. Finally, be on the lookout for the Honors Judicial Internship application.

Why did you choose New England Law?

New England Law stuck out to me because of the collegial environment. The students here genuinely want their classmates to succeed and will make the extra effort to support one another. I believe New England Law is fairly unique in that respect.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

I am planning to go into civil litigation.

Sabrina Rocco ’19

Sabrina-RoccoJudicial Internship: Judicial Intern to Hon. Donald L. Cabell, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution: University of South Florida, BA in Mass Communications; St. Petersburg College, AA
Hometown: Safety Harbor, Florida

What did you do during your judicial internship?

As a Judicial Intern to the Honorable Donald L. Cabell at the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, I had a firsthand look at the inner workings of the federal court system. I interned with Judge Cabell during my fall semester of 2L year, so this was my first real-world interaction with federal Civil and Criminal Procedure. Being in this environment helped me process those concepts outside of the classroom by applying them to issues in the cases assigned to me.

I wrote drafts of opinions on motions to compel, motions for summary judgment, and default judgments in civil cases. I also conducted wide-ranging legal research and facts analysis for the judge’s clerks and was able to observe court proceedings. Because I was writing so much and working closely with the clerks, my writing and research skills improved tremendously. I received constant feedback from the clerk I worked with the most and ultimately came out of the judicial internship with a clearer understanding what it means to be a sharp legal writer and researcher.

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

For a judicial internship, apply very, very early—between seven and ten months early. Judges typically hire pretty far out, so you want to make sure your application isn’t coming in at the last minute. (New England Law students can also apply through the Honors Judicial Internship Program.)

Also, in your cover letter and interview, you must be able to speak to your ability to research and write well, because a judicial intern spends most of their time writing. Start gathering quality writing samples from your classes or other internships that you can include with your application and discuss in your interviews with judges and clerks.

Why did you choose New England Law?

I chose New England Law because of its small, close-knit community feel. I also wanted to be in Boston because of its reputation for being an outstanding legal community.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

I am happy to report that I was accepted into the Army JAG Corps this year. This is my dream job. I am so honored to have this opportunity to serve my country as an Army Officer and JAG attorney.

Jaemie Fasanello ’19

Jaemie-FasanelloJudicial Internship: Honors Judicial Internship with Hon. Joseph Johnston of the Suffolk County Juvenile Court
Undergraduate Institution: Stonehill College, BA in Sociology
Hometown: East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

What did you do during your judicial internship?

Due to my passion for family and juvenile law, in the spring of 2018, I took the class Children in the Law with Judge Stephen M. Limon, where I was lucky enough to receive the CALI Award for Excellence in the class.

Through my relationship with Judge Limon, I was able to participate in New England Law's Honor's Judicial Internship program and served as a judicial legal intern at the Suffolk County Juvenile Court working with Judge Joseph Johnston.

Through my judicial internship, I assisted not only Judge Johnston but all of the Suffolk County Juvenile Court judges. I researched points of law, reviewed facts in evidence, and provided information and material to assist the judges in coming to and writing judicial conclusions. I also drafted multiple opinions for judicial review and observed numerous juvenile court proceedings.

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

My biggest advice to individuals who are interested in participating in a judicial internship is to work hard, break out of your comfort zone, and network.

It was through my judicial internship that I was able to meet several attorneys in the court who were then able to help me in retaining my current internship at the Department of Children and Families at Boston Legal. Had I not approached those attorneys throughout my time as a judicial intern, I do not think I would be working for the department today.

Why did you choose New England Law?

I chose to attend New England Law because I love the small, tight-knit community I have found throughout my time here—an experience unlike most other law schools. As the first in my family to attend law school, everything is completely new to me. If it were not for the incredible professors and faculty at New England Law, I would never have had the knowledge and confidence to steer my career in the direction I am fortunate enough to be headed in.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

My ultimate dream is to work in juvenile law in any capacity. It is no secret to anyone who knows me—my main goal in life is to help children in any way possible. I hope to build a career around helping children, the world's most innocent individuals.

Stephanie Marie Karanevskii ’20

Stephanie-KaranevskiiJudicial Internship: Judicial Intern with Hon. Robert Tochka of Suffolk County Superior Court
Undergraduate Institution: Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology
Hometown: Metuchen, New Jersey

What did you do during your judicial internship?

My judicial internship was a wonderful experience with the Honorable Robert Tochka and his fantastic clerk, Norman Huggins, at the Suffolk County Superior Court.

Each day of my judicial internship I would sit in on trials or motions, observing and later discussing the case or matter with the judge. Afterwards, the judge would assign me a research project relating to the case at hand. Often he would ask my opinions and reasons why I chose the result I did.

This internship boosted my research and writing skills because I was dealing with real-life memoranda of law. What this basically entailed was helping the judge craft his written decisions. In addition, I would assist the judge in summarizing witness testimonies, as well as work beside the clerk to better understand how matters are organized in the Superior Court.

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

Judicial internships are great hands-on experiences law students should take advantage of if they possibly can! You will definitely learn how to communicate with attorneys, judges, clerks, and laypeople navigating the legal world. It is an eye-opening experience. And if your judge is as personable as mine was, you may even get a few laughs in!

If you want a judicial internship in law school, just go for it and ask lots of questions. You will not regret an opportunity to work alongside a judge and their staff. Once you make a connection and prove you are able to do excellent work, you will start making your name in the legal community while growing your network alongside other successful legal professionals.

Why did you choose New England Law?

I chose New England Law because I wanted to begin my legal career in a big city like Boston or New York. The scholarship I received also played a part in easing the financial burden that comes along with law school.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

Upon completing law school, I would like to work as in-house counsel for a company or firm. My interests include business, corporate, tax, compliance, and regulatory law, although I am very open-minded to all genres!

Samantha M. Wesley ’19

Samantha-WesleyJudicial Internship: Honors Judicial Intern, Middlesex Probate and Family Court
Undergraduate Institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst, BA in Political Science
Hometown: Trumbull, Connecticut

What did you do during your judicial internship?

While interning for Middlesex Probate and Family Court, I conducted legal research and prepared memoranda for judges. I also would sit in the courtroom and observe trials, motion sessions, pre-trial conferences, and contempt hearings. My typical day varied depending on my schedule and the tasks assigned to me. If I had research to do, I would be at my desk reading through case law. If I was observing a courtroom that day, I would sit off to the side during the session. 

What advice can you offer other law students who wish to do a judicial internship?

Definitely go after a judicial internship! Adjust your law school schedule to make it work. It is a unique opportunity to get to know judges. I was particularly fortunate, because the ones I worked with were family and probate judges, which is the exact field I’m planning to work in.

Also, judicial internships are a great opportunity to observe how a courtroom really works. On one of my last days, a court officer pulled me aside and said, "If you learn anything in this internship, it is what not to do in a courtroom." So, now when I go into a courtroom to represent a client, I already have a leg up knowing proper etiquette and the process.

Why did you choose New England Law?

I chose New England Law because I wanted a small, close-knit community. I was looking for a school where students would work together rather than against each other.

What do you hope to do with your law degree?

I hope to go into family law, where I can work directly with the clients and help them through the processes they face.

Learn more about judicial internship opportunities in law school.