From clerkships to clinical assistantships to working as summer associates at firms, summer legal work helps students gain practical skills and experiences that benefit them during law school and beyond. This is the first profile in our 2013 series featuring the summer job experiences of UW Law students.
Clare Carlson ’14
Certified Law Clerk, San Francisco Public Defender's Office
Describe your summer work experience.
This summer, I worked as a law clerk for the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. I was assigned to one (spectacular) supervising attorney, and for the first half of the summer, I assisted with a second-degree homicide trial. My work included researching and writing motions and litigating motions on the record in court. I also met with clients, interviewed witnesses and conducted investigations.
What is the most interesting thing you've worked on this summer?
The most interesting part of my summer was definitely working on a second-degree homicide trial and observing the trial process from start to finish — from the jury selection to the verdict reading. It was amazing to watch talented attorneys make opening statements and closing arguments and conduct some particularly contentious cross-examinations. It was also insightful to see the amount of work — and thinking on your feet — that goes into criminal trials. As far as the work I specifically did, the most interesting aspects included writing requests for jury instructions, succeeding in having an important piece of late evidence suppressed (which almost never happens), as well as having a rather creatively drafted jury instruction read to the jury. In the end, our client was acquitted.
How do you think this work experience will shape the rest of your time at UW Law School?
After my experience this summer, I'm positive that I want to pursue a career in indigent defense. I’m looking forward to participating in the Frank J. Remington Center's Federal Appeals Project, where I will assist in representing clients convicted of federal crimes in their post-conviction motions and direct appeals. I also look forward to externing with the Federal Public Defender in Madison.
What classes have been particularly useful in preparing you for your summer job?
My participation in the Criminal Appeals Project during my second year helped prepare me for my summer internship, not only by improving my research and writing skills, but also by giving me the skills necessary to build a relationship of trust with my clients. Taking Professor Cecelia Klingele’s Sentencing and Corrections seminar and conducting independent research into the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s Sexually Violent Persons civil commitment law also prepared me for this summer.
Submitted by Law School News on May 13, 2015