Externships: A Different Experience in Law School

Welcome to my first post for BU Law blogs! You can find other meanderings about law school, living in Boston and life as a 2L at BU Law on this page over the course of this year.

One experience that I’ve had over the course of this semester which I’m very grateful for is my externship through the Legal Externship Program. While many students participate in our well-known clinical programs over the course of their 2L and 3L years, the externship programs at BU tend to be more off the radar. Students who choose to participate in the externship programs can select either the Government Externship Program or the Legal Externship Program depending on where they are working. As part of the program, students are also required to take a legal ethics course in conjunction with their job placement. This legal ethics course also satisfies the professional responsibility requirement.

But enough about boring course selection stuff, I’m sure all the readers want to hear about my externship.  I am currently working as a Legal Intern (or “extern”, the names are really interchangeable) for the City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations. As a 2L interested in labor and employment law, this was the perfect placement for me to get hands-on labor law experience. I work at Boston’s City Hall 15-17 hours per week generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and all day Friday. The amount of course credits you get depends on how many hours per week you work. While this may seem like a lot of time away from school throughout the week, the program is designed to provide a taste of what practicing after graduation will be like. A practicing attorney has to strike a balance between a number of obligations and the Legal Externship Program is able to give law students a similar sense of needing to strike a balance between school work and the time spent at your externship.

The City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations is a very busy office but only employs a handful of attorneys. Because of this, myself and two other interns have the opportunity to be responsible for real legal work every day. Whether this includes researching critical issues regarding management’s right to terminate a city employee or preparing attorneys for collective bargaining sessions, the interns at my office have a great deal of responsibility. For instance, just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to observe an arbitration hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations, an investigatory interview with a witness who observed an employee confrontation and a meeting between a major public sector union and the City of Boston seeking to enforce minimum qualifications for existing employees. These experiences have allowed me to practice what I’ve learned in class but also explore different areas where I may have interest in. It has also reaffirmed my preconceived belief that I do have an interest in labor and employment law.

My internship is not alone in providing a hands-on experience to BU Law students. A number of other interns with placements throughout Boston have shared similar stories and experiences where they have been able to get real legal experience on a part-time basis throughout the semester. While BU’s clinical programs are also a great way to get real legal experience, the externship program provides a different avenue to explore what a practicing attorney experiences day-to-day. For me, law school has been about trying to figure out exactly what area of law I’m interested in practicing. The Legal Externship Program has provided another way for me to narrow down my interests and allow me to explore a new practice area.

Celebrating Veterans Day

Well this is exciting! It’s my first blog post, and what better day to do it than Veterans Day?

This will be the first time I am celebrating Veterans Day as an actual veteran, having hung up my uniform just a few months ago. While November 11th is Veterans Day, November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday, so my Facebook feed has been filled with pictures of my buddies in their dress blues celebrating at Marine Corps Birthday Balls around the world.


…and looking sharp!


There was great camaraderie that came along with those celebrations; the Marine Corps is an institution where everyone in the room has a common link in the mental and physical tests he or she endured to earn the honor of wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor insignia. The Birthday Ball is a chance to unwind for a night and celebrate that which draws us together, and to remember those who came before us. In some respects, the ball is not dissimilar to a BU Law bar review on a Thursday night, where law students get to come together and laugh about the assignments or cold-call experiences that filled them with dread just a few days earlier. There is bonding in the challenges we face.

Of course, law school is a much different kind of challenge than the military, and I think the experience of active duty service has been helpful in keeping things in perspective as the semester spools up around finals period. Whenever I am feeling a bit stressed about the workload, it is helpful to remember that somewhere in the world, there is a soldier struggling to stay awake while keeping watch over his buddies at a Forward Operating Base. There is a sailor three months into a deployment at sea working a 16-hour day before he crawls into the cramped confines of his rack just to get up and do it all over again the next day. There is a kid barely out of high school stepping on the yellow footprints at Parris Island who is about to spend the next three months enduring seemingly insurmountable stress to become a Marine. There is a Coast Guardsman putting on a survival suit to risk his life for a fisherman in distress…

Suddenly, a little studying doesn’t sound so bad.

When I think about those things this Veterans Day, I recall how I was constantly impressed and humbled by the untiring work of the men and women around me during my time in the service. It is hard to believe the weight we put on the shoulders of those in an organization where the average age is just twenty-five.

One example of the sacrifice our service members make was brought into sharp focus last week, when Professor Hylton asked us to review a case for her contracts class, Prudential Insurance Co. v. Clark, 456 F.2d 932 (5th Cir. 1972.) The case involves a young Marine who was killed in Vietnam and a dispute about his life insurance policy. I am not sure why I decided to pull up Google and research the man the case was about.


Corporal Bill Clark


Corporal William Stephen Clark was 21 years old when he died in Vietnam in 1968. He was a member of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463– “Pegasus”–my squadron when I was in the fleet. He flew the same helicopter, too; the CH-53 Sea Stallion. It was an odd feeling pulling up a picture of a Marine from nearly half a century back, wearing a government-issued bomber jacket identical to the one I keep in my closet, Pegasus patch and all. Suddenly, this name that was just a party in a contracts case was not just a name, and the tragedy of parents collecting life insurance for their lost son became very real. Just barely old enough to drink, Bill Clark had already earned twenty-one Air Medals in two deployments in Vietnam when his helicopter crashed into a field.

I wanted to mention Corporal Clark this Veterans Day, because I think it is important to remember the things we ask our young service members to do for us on a daily basis, and how they invariably rise to the task. I am not one to advocate the view that every person that puts on the uniform is a hero. Nor do I think that our troops are the only demographic that face hardship. But my goodness, you should see some of the unbelievable things these young service members accomplish– in the most trying of times and most austere environments– without a selfish thought. It is not an overstatement to say that I would not be sitting here today without many of the Marines and Sailors I had the privilege of serving with. I know they will continue to look out for each other and serve our country well. For that, I am grateful, and it’s why Veterans Day is worth celebrating.

For more on Corporal Clark and the crew of Aircraft Buno 153284, here are some links:



Time Flies When You’re Dazed and Confused

It recently occurred to me that somehow, I am more than halfway into my first semester of law school. I was sitting outside of a Starbucks at the time (freezing, because surprisingly, living in Florida did not prepare me for temperatures below 65 degrees), watching the leaves fall and thinking about how different life is now from when I was watching the New Year’s ball drop last January. Since then, I’ve managed to graduate from UCF, move from Florida to Massachusetts, and stumble through the beginning of my legal career. I’m not really sure how this all managed to happen in what feels like approximately three weeks, but here I am, and time does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

As we say farewell to Halloween, I can feel the apprehension about what’s to come beginning to take root in my classmates. While it’s true that nobody seems to be looking forward to another snowpocalypse, I’m more talking about exam season looming over us in the distance. Panels on how to properly outline and sessions on how to take a law school exam are persistent reminders that, yes, exams are coming and, yes, it’s time to start preparing. But when it comes to deciding what the best way to prepare for the exams, or for law school in general for that matter, everyone seems to have a different opinion. With advice from 2Ls, 3Ls, faculty, and staff galore, it can be difficult to figure out who has the best ideas.

While I recognize that as a first semester student, I may not be a compendium of knowledge about how to survive law school just yet, there are a few tidbits that I have found helpful and have heard repeated over and over again. Something I get from older students all the time is “Don’t let what everyone else is doing freak you out.” They’re usually talking about study habits, but I’ve also heard this in reference to how well fellow students handle cold calls, how many events and socials they go to, etc. It seems that a common trap to fall into is to start comparing yourself to everyone that’s around you. Cue anxiety and stress when it seems like your classmates are doing twice as much as you are to prepare. Chances are, what they are doing isn’t necessarily what would work best for you, and it’s important to recognize they everyone has their own methods for being successful.

Which leads into the other piece of advice I hear all the time, “Do what you know works for you.” Some of my classmates are coming to school after having worked for several years, and approach their studies with a 9-5 attitude. These classmates are doing fine. Some of my friends are night owls who study all night, and some are the first ones at the law school every morning. They are all doing fine. As a generally laid back person, I have thus far experienced much lower levels of stress than my peers, just because it’s not in my nature to get worked up about things. At first, this created some weird mind game where my lack of stress was beginning to create its own stress and make me doubt myself, because I have to be overwhelmed if I’m doing law school correctly, right?

Ultimately, these two pieces of advice continue to be expressed by nearly all members of the BUSL community, and in practice I completely understand why. As a 1L, I find that I am consistently reminding myself of them, and it really does seem to makes things a little easier. Again, take my advice for what it’s worth. Which is to say, advice coming from someone with approximately two months of experience. At the end of the day, it’s all about what helps you!

May It Please The Court

If you asked me before starting law school if I wanted to litigate after I graduate, “never” might have been too soon of an answer. My only concern with choosing to go to law school and become an attorney was that I would have to speak in a courtroom and so I was very relieved when I was applying to schools to hear from practicing attorneys that not all lawyers actually spend time in court. I knew when I began law school that I want to be one of those–one of the ones who never sets foot in a courtroom.

Lucky for me, BU Law’s curriculum required me to at least test the litigation waters my 1L year through my legal writing seminar. Second semester of 1L year, all 1L’s were required to participate in moot court. We were all assigned a partner in our legal writing seminar and had to write a brief and argue our case before a panel of judges. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed my moot court experience and went on to voluntarily participate in moot court this year as a 2L. Although, I’m still unsure as to whether I would prefer to do transactional work or litigation, I have learned that I would likely enjoy both.

I’ve always been told that I’m a good public speaker and I have always enjoyed public speaking when I know exactly what I am going to say. However, the uncertainty of being asked about an argument that I may have missed against my clients right to due process considered wasn’t something I was looking forward to last year. I re member thinking of oral arguments as one giant “cold call” but, in the end they were actually quite enjoyable and much less stressful than being on call for class. Moot court is also a pass/fail credit during your 1L year at BU Law so there’s comfortable room to make mistakes and have fun.

At the end of my 1L year, one of my section mates, Jaclyn, and I decided we would do moot court as 2L’s. Unlike 1L moot court, 2L moot court is completely voluntary and gives you no credit. The whole experience is a bit of a blur since it’s much more condensed than 1L year. As a 1L, I remember working for over a month on my moot court brief whereas this year, I wrote my brief and prepared for oral arguments in less than a week. Jaclyn and I had the opportunity to argue an interesting family law problem written by one of the 3L moot court directors. I spoke with the director who wrote our problem at the reception after our oral argument and I’m beginning to think about applying to be a moot court director next year and write my own problem.

As I’ve said in almost every post, law school has been nothing at all like what I expected and I have continuously been pleasantly surprised. When I look back and think about the senior at Marist College who was applying to law schools, I am amazed at how much my mindset of the legal profession has changed and how drastically my interests have altered since I began.

Going to Jail

This year, I chose to do the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) at BU Law. After my work at the Florida Immigrant Coalition this past summer, the IRC seemed like a good way to follow up on what I had learned and to further my lawyering skills. For the majority of the clinic this semester, I have been working with my partner on our Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) case.  We just received our asylum case a few weeks ago which will likely take us to the end of the spring to complete.

As part of the clinic, my classmates and I went to a detention center at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. We were led by an employee from the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project in Boston. The PAIR project is a leading provider of pro bono immigration legal services to asylum-seekers and immigrants unjustly detained in Massachusetts.

During the jail visit, I was able to meet with one potential client for PAIR and speak to him about his experiences in the United Stated. This was my first time being in a jail or detention center and it was a very humbling experience to have someone look at me for help and assistance. It reminded me how many people there are that need legal assistance but don’t have the financial means to be properly represented. Doing work for the IRC this semester has consistently reminded me how important pro-bono work is and how far removed certain people are from access to justice.