Hello From DC: Lessons from My Judicial Internship

It feels like just yesterday when I was getting ready to pack my car and head to Boston for my first year of law school. Now, the last week of my internship is quickly approaching and it’s hard to believe that on-campus interviews (or “OCI”) are right around the corner.

I spent this past summer interning for a judge at the D.C. Superior Court who presided over domestic relations matters. Coming from a divorced family myself, I was intrigued to learn about how these issues were handled in court. But part of me also worried that I would not truly be able to immerse myself in the subject area when I had no exposure to it from my first year’s classes and no intention of pursuing a career in family law.

However, I am happy to report back that interning for a judge exposed me to a lot, taught me important skills for my future career, and made me excited for next year’s classes. Here’s a breakdown of lessons I learned:

  • All Hail LP. All I have to say is thank goodness for LP! Put briefly, LP, or Law Practice, is Boston College’s year-long legal writing and research class. This course teaches you how to craft legal arguments, how to support those arguments with case law and statutes, and how to properly cite to those supporting authorities. I could not have survived this summer without learning those skills. I had a number of projects throughout my internship, but the most interesting ones involved researching pretty discrete issues and packaging that information into arguments used in the judge’s orders.
  • The Summer of the Bluebook. On a related note, your LP professor isn’t kidding when she or he talks about how important citations are. My Bluebook was opened at least once a day. I can’t believe I almost left it in Boston for the summer!
  • First Impressions Are Everything. Okay, maybe a little dramatic but I still think it makes a good point. I wanted to ensure I left a great impression and knew that it started with my first.  That’s why I showed up on the first day ready to offer my assistance and excited to learn.
  • Ask Away. I did have work experience prior to law school, but this internship was very unfamiliar. I realized that asking questions would not only show my enthusiasm (see above), but would also save me a lot of time and allow me to take on more projects throughout the summer. Asking questions also gave me a better sense of my supervisors’ preferences, which really helped with every assignment (even case briefs and questions on spacing!).
  • Seeing Is Believing. I didn’t realize how much I would learn from observing court proceedings. The criminal cases going on at the Superior Court were definitely interesting because of the crimes themselves (think mistrials stemming from double homicides where witnesses lied under oath), but it was almost as though my textbooks were coming to life. Jury instructions, motions, and evidence are all things you read about in class, but seeing it in practice taught me way more than any textbook.

Although my summer in DC was great, I am ready to head back to Boston and see where 2L year takes me! Until next time…

Courtney Ruggeri is a rising 2L at BC Law. She welcomes emails from Impact readers. You can reach her at ruggeric@bc.edu.

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