My name is Lawson Barkley, and I am a senior at Seton Hall University majoring in Diplomacy and International Relations with minors in Economics and Russian. I am currently interning with a District Court Judge in North Carolina as a research intern, and my time so far has been invaluable. I previously spent time with the judge and have come to admire his character and work ethic. His ability to foster a safe and friendly work environment, while at the same time challenging me with assignments, makes this internship very enjoyable.
As is the case with internships amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, I work remotely and spend my free time and weekends on internship assignments. This internship is incredibly flexible; therefore, I can balance my homework and internship assignments throughout the week. When it comes to my work with the District Court, my experience as a Diplomacy student aided me in the completion of all tasks. Particularly, courses like Public International Law (PIL) have prepared me for this role. Like the work I do at my internship, PIL assignments consist of reading case law and preparing case briefs that interpreted laws. This was one of the primary tasks I had to complete for my supervisor. Working on case briefs became difficult when dealing with laws that were new and had no concrete precedent from which we could derive rulings. However, once I had a strong understanding of these laws, I could sift through cases and determine where they were used, and how they were used. This is important work since judges have the power to use discretion when interpreting laws on cases.
One of the best skills I gained during my internship is the ability to effectively write case briefs. When I first started the internship, I would spend quite a bit of time on one case; however, I quickly learned that I should not read through every little detail. Now, I am better at finding where the main points of cases are, and whether to continue reading it word by word. This skill will not only help me effectively deal with case law but can be transferred to any readings that I do for my other courses.
I strongly recommend interning with a judge or lawyer for anyone interested in the field of legal studies. As a result of the pandemic, naturally, the internship was a unique experience. Internships during Covid-19 are more research-focused. In the past, I toured the courthouse and saw the inner workings of a District Court. Not only did I experience the legal field from the perspective of a judge, but I also experienced it from the perspective of a lawyer. I networked with many lawyers who have guided me concerning my place within the legal field. Overall, this internship prepared me for my future law school journey. The ability to research cases and write briefs is critical for students looking to pursue a JD. Although I did this internship remotely, I hope to connect with my supervisors and mentors in the future once the lockdown restrictions have eased.