Hands-on Summer Work Helps Set UW Law Students Apart

From clerkships to clinical assistantships to working as summer associates at firms, summer legal work can help students gain practical skills and experience that benefit them during law school and beyond. It can also help set students apart when looking for employment.

Here is a sample of recent UW Law students' summer work and how the experience has enhanced their overall law school education.

Nina Beck

Nina Beck, 3L

Summer Associate at Godfrey & Kahn, Milwaukee, WI

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This summer I worked as a summer associate at Godfrey & Kahn in Milwaukee. I primarily worked on assignments for the Litigation team, performing research, writing legal memos, and attending client meetings with shareholders on the team.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
The research skills I learned at the UW Law School enabled me to effectively research at Godfrey & Kahn. Also, my experience with the Consumer Law Clinic during my 2L year prepared me for doing actual legal work in a firm setting. The Clinic gave me experience in legal research and writing, as well as communicating with clients and counsel, that transferred to my work as a summer associate.


Diana Camosy

Diana Camosy, 2L

Intern for Judge William Conley at the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Tell us about your summer work experience.
I was an intern for Judge William Conley at the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, for whom I worked full-time for nine weeks this past summer. My duties consisted of research and writing for cases before the court, which could range from simple background research in treatises, to detailed case research on Lexis and Westlaw, and especially to drafting court orders and decisions. The perk was that, once I had written a draft, I would bring it to the judge himself and we would discuss it, which made me feel like a real professional.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
The internship was tied to everything I had done in my first year of law school, in that there was not a class that I could not bring to bear on my work or my observations of courtroom proceedings. More importantly, the internship taught me that the meaning of UW's "law in action" mission is to ask what effect the law has on people. For example, a ruling issued by the court can have real consequences for all parties, and anything I did had to be tempered by this understanding.


Christy Coombs

Christy Coombs, 2L

Project Assistant, Restorative Justice Project, Frank J. Remington Center

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This summer I worked as a project assistant for the Restorative Justice Project in the Frank J. Remington Center. I spent time speaking with both victims and offenders, educating interested parties about our project, and also working with my supervisor to mediate communication between them, whether in the form of letters or victim offender conferencing. I also worked on family law cases, so I spent time researching and drafting court documents for these cases, specifically divorce and paternity issues.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
My clinical experience was a great addition to my UW law school experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to live "law in action" by getting experience interviewing clients, researching new topics, and collaborating with my supervisor to suggest courses of action, solve problems and assist others. It added a new level to my understanding as opposed to just reading about the law. I also enjoyed discussing summer experiences with my classmates--it was obvious we all felt the clinical program helped us grow as young lawyers.


Abuko Estrada

Abuko Estrada, 2L

Judicial Intern for the Honorable Petra Jimenez Maes of the New Mexico Supreme Court

Tell us about your summer work experience.
During the summer I was a judicial intern for the Honorable Petra Jimenez Maes of the New Mexico Supreme Court. My work included extensive research and writing as I helped in the drafting of two decisions by the court. I also attended oral arguments and Clerk meetings, which were both valuable experiences in continuing to develop my legal analysis and advocacy skills.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
It is said, "good lawyers know the law, great lawyers know the judge." Doing a judicial internship allows you to get to know both. Working with Justice Maes gave me the opportunity to apply the legal principles from the classroom to actual casework. Additionally, I learned valuable written and oral advocacy skills by getting to know what judges like to see from lawyers. It is law-in-action from the perspective of the judicial chambers.


Samuel Kohn

Samuel Kohn, 2L

Assisted inmates at Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, WI

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This summer, my work with the Oxford project consisted of assisting inmates at Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, WI with civil and criminal issues. I managed an active caseload of ten clients who confronted issues across 16 states, including criminal sentence modification, period of custody designations, divorce inquiries, and child support modification. Additionally, I hope to participate in Seventh Circuit criminal appeals in the coming months.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
The University of Wisconsin Law School has a proud tradition with criminal law in addition to the tradition of teaching "law in action." One method of learning "law in action" is by taking advantage of most of the many clinical opportunities available. I am gratified that I participated in a Remington Center clinical last summer--I feel as though my experience was the intersection of two of the law school's proudest traditions. On a more practical note, I believe that working with federal law and in numerous states in the summer following my 1L year gives me a unique professional experience that sets me up to bring strong practical experience to future employers.


Thomas Larkin

Thomas Larkin, 3L

Summer Associate at Cleary Gottlieb, New York, NY

Tell us about your summer work experience.
I worked at Cleary Gottlieb this summer in New York City as a summer associate. Cleary allows summer associates to choose from a wide selection of litigation and corporate practice area assignments. In the litigation area, I primarily worked on research and writing memos, while in the corporate practice areas I analyzed contracts for intellectual property and bankruptcy issues, performed due diligence in real estate repurchasing, and sat in on client calls and meetings.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
My summer experience allowed me to get hands-on practical legal experience. It was invaluable to see how the skills I have learned in law school are applied to help resolve clients business issues.


Jill Parikh

Jill J. Parikh, 2L

Intern at the Office of Staff Legal Assistance at the United Nations in New York

Tell us about your summer work experience.
I interned at the Office of Staff Legal Assistance at the United Nations in New York the summer after my 1L year. I represented UN employees in employment suits against the Secretary General within the United Nations internal justice system. A lot of my experience revolved around getting used to the UN internal justice system and familiarizing myself with the jurisprudence. With help from supervising attorneys, I would interact with clients, write briefs for submission to the UNDT and UNAT (trial and appeal court), as well as file motions.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
A lot of the skills I developed are transferrable skills that built upon things I had been learning in Legal Research and Writing, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law. I also got a crash course in administrative law during my internship which has sparked my interest in actually taking the course here at UW before I graduate.


Zachary Pfeiffer

Zachary Pfeiffer, 3L

Summer Associate in the New York office of Kaye Scholer LLP

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This past summer I had the opportunity to work as a Summer Associate in the New York office of Kaye Scholer LLP. I completed assignments for various practice groups within the firm, including corporate, IP, finance, and litigation, and I also assisted several pro bono clients. The assignments themselves usually involved research and memo-writing or preliminary drafting, with the firm's attorneys providing helpful feedback and supervision.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
I was grateful for the background in business entities, real estate, civil procedure, and antitrust that my coursework at UW provided. I also appreciated the experience that the Legal Research and Writing program and Law Review gave me with research, legal writing, and citation, whether I was drafting a letter to a federal agency on behalf of a pro bono client or summarizing the case law on a Lanham Act provision in an internal memo.


Rebecca Remington

Rebecca Remington, 3L

Summer Associate at SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This past summer I was a summer associate at SmithAmundsen in Chicago. I had an exceptional experience working in various areas of litigation such as product liability, insurance, and commercial transportation litigation.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
Much like my experience at the University of Wisconsin Law School, the atmosphere at SmithAmundsen is supportive and congenial. In addition, I felt well prepared to take on my legal projects based on my participation in UW's advocacy courses and externship opportunities.


Nathaniel Inglis Steinfeld

Nathaniel Inglis Steinfeld, 3L

Summer Law Clerk at the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.

Tell us about your summer work experience.
This past summer I was a Summer Law Clerk at the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. The organization is a nonprofit that promotes civil rights within the greater Chicago region. One of their main efforts is connecting pro bono attorneys from major law firms with local clients. I assisted on a few big projects designed to help low-income communities, including preparing a health disparities project, drafting of federal tax credit applications, and organizing a new voting rights initiative.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
As a dual degree student with the La Follette School of Public Affairs, I was very interested in how law and public policy can interact. This summer was a great experience of brainstorming with lawyers about new ways of using law and legal frameworks to pursue equality in Chicago's health care system, build sustainable community development, and ensure equal access to voting. Reading the history of CLC, going back to the 1960s, was useful example for me to see how civil rights lawyers have advocated for equality in the past.


Michelle Yun

Michelle Yun, 3L

Summer Associate, Nuclear Group, Exelon Corporation, Chicago, IL

Tell us about your summer work experience.
I spent last summer working in-house at Exelon Corporation as a summer associate assigned to the nuclear group. Working in-house was a thrilling experience as new challenges arose each day. To support the team, I worked on several issues including some related to employment law, international business regulations, litigation, and lobbying.

How does this work tie in with your UW Law School experience?
Wisconsin has a unique collegiality that is not found at all law schools. While grades matter, one of the most important contributors to success in the workplace is the ability to communicate and work well with others. For almost every project, I worked closely with other summer associates, outside counsel, in-house attorneys, employees, and corporate leaders. Rather than having an "independent law student" mindset, I found working with others to be quite natural after working with Wisconsin law students and faculty for the past two years.

To learn more about summer work opportunities for students at UW Law School, contact Career Services.

Submitted by UW Law News on November 9, 2011

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