Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Laura Goodall L’14 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Supported by a Law School grant, Goodall is working in Los Angeles, in the chambers of Judge Gary A. Feess of the Central District of California. She writes that her internship experience has inspired her to seek a judicial clerkship when she graduates.
I have almost completed my summer internship, and it has been a fantastic experience! While Judge Feess handles the criminal matters himself, the clerks and interns review all the civil suits to draft orders and bench memoranda.
As one of the four summer interns, I have two primary responsibilities. First, I conduct jurisdiction checks on the complaints and notices of removal that are assigned to the Judge to ensure that the Court’s exercise of subject matter jurisdiction is proper in each case. Each check is a review of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and it is immensely rewarding to know that my studying for 1L Civil Procedure has paid off. Several issues of personal jurisdiction and “minimum contacts” have arisen, and I often refer back to my course outline before reaching a conclusion.
My second responsibility is to read and research parties’ motions and draft orders. I typically work on two motions a week, usually motions to dismiss and motions for default judgment. The cases involve a wide range of federal and state law claims, including civil rights violations, trademark infringements, wrongful foreclosure, and credit fraud. Professor Burbank often pointed out in my Civil Procedure class that the Supreme Court decisions Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly have heightened the pleading standard, making it more difficult to bring cases to trial. I have found his observation to be true, as I have been surprised by the number of suits that are dismissed in the Central District due to insufficient pleadings.
My Legal Writing class has also proved extremely valuable. I have discovered that strong writing is essential to being a successful litigator because the Judge decides most civil motions solely by reading the parties’ briefs. I have learned, in particular, how important it is to address counterarguments and use parentheticals after case citations to explain the relevance of a particular authority. Over the course of the summer, I have become much more efficient on Westlaw and LexisNexis, and I have finally become comfortable using the “terms and connectors” in the search engines.
A high-profile case that came before our Court this summer was one in which CBS was suing ABC to stop the airing of ABC’s new show “Glass House.” CBS contended that “Glass House” was a copy of CBS’s popular show “Big Brother,” and the case involved questions about the intellectual property rights afforded to reality television production and plot lines. The hearing became a media event! It was exciting to watch accomplished litigators argue before the Judge on novel questions of IP and media law. It was also very humorous when a reality TV blogger called Judge Feess “an American hero” for allowing “Glass House” to air its premiere.
Getting a tuition grant from Penn Law to fund my internship has been incredibly helpful. When I come back to Penn Law I hope to participate in moot court and further my interest in litigation. I have learned what an important job clerking is, and I hope to be up for the challenge when I graduate from law school!
- Laura Goodall
More summer student dispatches:
-Jen Leventhal L’13, who is working as a summer associate at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York City
-Alisan VanFleet L’13, who is working in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
-Hannah Gerstenblatt L’14, who is working in the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball in New York City.
-Stephanie Shyu L’14, who is working for the Beijing Arbitration Commission in Beijing, China.
-Lauren-Kelly Devine L’14, who is working for the Athletes and Personalities division of Octagon Inc. in McLean, VA.
-Will Moine L’14, who is working in the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
-Christen Farr L’13, who is working for the International Finance Corporation, a member institution of the World Bank, in Istanbul, Turkey.