A look at the summer intern experience with Justice Edwards
In January, I received a telephone call regarding my acceptance into the Sonia and Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program. The goals of the program are to provide an opportunity for law students from diverse backgrounds and underserved communities to gain experience and skills while being mentored in the New York state judicial system. Upon the completion of my first year at Duke Law School in Durham, North Carolina, my placement was to be with Justice Genine D. Edwards of the Kings County Supreme Court. After my excitement abated from the phone call, I realized I needed to ask, “Where’s Kings County?” The answer, “It’s in Brooklyn,” filled me with even more excitement and anticipation.
Prior to this summer, I had never lived in New York City and had only been to Brooklyn once or twice. I was eager to work in Brooklyn and learn more about the court system, but both law students and professors warned it might be rare to observe a trial in action, even while working with a judge. Additionally, I expected the caseload to be lighter given the internship was during the summer months.
My first day in chambers, after meeting all the court staff and speaking to Justice Edwards, I learned that Kings County is not only the busiest Civil Term in New York state, but also the busiest Civil Term in the entire country. In keeping with that fact, a medical malpractice trial was scheduled to begin the next day in front of Justice Edwards. Fortunately, I observed from jury selection through the end of trial. Later that week, I received my first assignment and experienced motion day. On motion day, the courtroom appeared chaotic with about 70 motions on the calendar and attorneys standing shoulder-to- shoulder, but it was extremely exhilarating to me after a year of burying my head in casebooks.
As an intern with Justice Edwards for close to two months now, I have learned lives can be changed in the courtroom. Witnessing the process to determine which result is the best, and most just, has reminded me of why I chose law. Justice Edwards has been expeditious in managing her courtroom, while still being accessible. She is a perfect example that judges are capable of determining important and just decisions while still retaining their compassion and humanity. Renee Williams, Justice Edwards’ principal law clerk, told me that I would become a part of the family. This did not take long at all. Justice Edwards’ chambers are efficient and effective at resolving cases in one of the busiest courthouses in the state, while building substantial relationships to find personal and professional fulfillment in the workforce.
Wrapping up my intern experience, I have come full circle and look forward to observing another medical malpractice trial in my last week. Ultimately, I have been impressed to discover that a happy and fulfilling workplace exists where important decisions affecting individuals’ lives are consistently resolved.
Justice Genine D. Edwards: “I have always been a staunch advocate for interns. Whether a student sits with me on my bench for a day, a summer or longer, I believe the exposure is an education unto itself. Gloria has, of course, fit right in, observing trials, asking relevant questions and drafting a memo. She will have a writing sample at the end of her internship that she will be able to use in furtherance of her legal career.”
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