Law Students Take on Internships, Learn Outside the Classroom Over the Summer
This summer, 85% of second-year and 97% of third-year law students held internships across multiple states and sectors. From interning in the Queens District Attorney’s Office in New York to assisting with law firms in the state, students at the Knudson School of Law gained deeper insight into the legal landscape and saw firsthand the possibilities available to them in their futures.
Meet eight law students who held internships over the summer and read what they had to say about their experiences.
1. Tory Shafer, Queens District Attorney’s Office: Intake and Assessments Department
Over the summer, Shafer, a second year student from Sioux Falls, served as the brave justice summer intern in the Queens District Attorney’s Office’s Intake and Assessments Department in Queens, New York. He received paperwork from police officers and organized it to be sent to the court, interviewed police officers and victims, and wrote affidavits.
“I learned that the intake process is a small but important cog in the machine of prosecution, and it is important to do little things that you do not see the benefits of right away,” said Shafer. “This internship practically put the law into my life, whereas before it was theoretical.”
2. Elise Balin, Budd-Falen Law Offices
As a summer intern for Budd-Falen Law Offices, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Balen, a second year student from Torrington, Wyoming, conducted research about environmental regulations and translated them into memos for clients and attorneys.
“I learned about the complexities of the Endangered Species Act, Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances and how different areas work together to form the regulations we have in place today,” Balin said.
3. Kelsey Milford, My Place Hotels of America
Milford, a second year law student from Jacksonville, Florida, served as a legal intern with My Place Hotels of America, specifically for the CEO and general in-house counselor and their paralegal. She reviewed real estate purchase agreements and vendor contracts and assisted in regulatory compliance.
“I have learned that I know more than I think I know,” said Milford. “Coming out of my first year of law school, I wasn’t sure if I’d be helpful or a hindrance, but it turns out I retained more legal information than I thought I did.”
4. Logan Johnson, First Bank & Trust
As a compliance intern at First Bank & Trust in his hometown, Johnson, a second year law student from Sioux Falls, was assigned to the New Guidance team, which collects, interprets and implements legislative changes. He also had a chance to work with other departments in Brookings and Minneapolis, Minnesota, including legal, agricultural, lending and business banking.
“One key takeaway from this summer is the importance of diligent preparation,” said Johnson. “The banking sector is subject to heightened scrutiny. The only way to avoid larger problems down the road is to work hard at the front end.”
5. Jennie Fuerst, South Dakota Office of the Attorney General
A second year student hailing from Pierre, Fuerst served as an intern for the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General and was responsible for conducting legal research, writing appellant briefs, making court appearances and writing memos.
“It is great to get this experience while in law school, so it isn’t daunting after graduation,” Fuerst said. “I have learned how to clearly and effectively communicate with the court by keeping statements concise and covering all of the elements of the crime accused.”
6. Hannah Hyatt, Montana State Office of the Public Defender
In addition to assisting with legal research, Hyatt, a third year student from Kalispell, Montana, was assigned misdemeanor cases and participated in specialty courts during her internship for the Montana State Office of the Public Defender in Helena, Montana.
“I learned how to manage a case from start to finish, which I will take with me to any job in my future,” said Hyatt.
7. TJ Wanken, Alliance Defending Freedom
Wanken’s internship brought him to the Alliance Defending Freedom in Lansdowne, Virginia. As a legal intern, his responsibilities included researching and writing about case law in the area of First Amendment jurisprudence.
“I learned that my professors are on point when they speak of the great importance legal research and writing play in the legal profession,” said Wanken, a second year student from Shelby, Montana. “It is easy to think about how the law should apply in a certain area, but it is much harder to write it out in a meaningful and intelligible way.”
8. Will West, Woods, Fuller, Shutlz & Smith P.C.
West, a third year law student from Red Oak, Iowa, served as a summer associate at Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith P.C. in Sioux Falls, where he worked on drafting various kinds of documents, researching legal issues and observing legal proceedings.
“What I enjoyed the most was observing how to practice effectively,” said West. “I learned that each attorney has their own unique approach to serving their clients. By witnessing so many different approaches, I was able to contemplate how I will approach practice in the future.”
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