Susan Zuiderveen is a third-year Cooley student serving on an externship. This is the fourth post in Susan’s series.
Now that I am several weeks into my externship, I have one regret. I regret that I was not able to spend more hours per week at my externship. Because I am a non-traditional student and I work full time outside of school, I was not able to take off more than twelve hours a week from my job to be at the courthouse with my field supervisor. I wanted to write this to encourage everyone to plan in advance and dedicate as much time as you possibly can to do an externship.
The time I have spent at the courthouse has been invaluable. I have been able to observe all parts of a criminal and civil trial and I have learned an incredible amount. However, I have not been able to view anything start to finish because I am only there part-time. By viewing different trials in small sections I am missing out on a key learning opportunity. Trials are stories, and how the attorneys tell the entire story to the jury is so important. By only seeing small portions it is as if you are seeing small sections of several movies none of which are intertwined. How the attorneys tell the story and intertwine all the facts is such an important skill to observe. This can only be accomplished when you are able to watch the entire story. I believe this is relevant for all types of externships, not just one in the criminal courts. Seeing the story play out from start to finish is a valuable experience for any law student, and it allows a better understanding of the entire process.
My externship is definitely one of the highlights of my legal education, and I encourage everyone to take full advantage of doing one in your area of interest. I also want to help others avoid having the same regret I do!