My internship as a legal assistant

Name: Karina E. Espinoza 

Major: Double major in political science and communication arts

Where did you intern? I interned for one year at the Law Office of Judd Aronowitz as a legal assistant.

What projects did you work on? I created pleadings and motions to be submitted to the court for several family, criminal and civil cases. Other projects included organizing and preparing documents for the attorneys. A crucial step in any criminal case is organizing the case. My main job was to contact the state attorney’s office and any other previously involved parties to make sure we had all of the discovery (a pre-trial procedure in which each party can obtain evidence from the other party that includes interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions and depositions) and documents that were previously submitted to the court.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? My coursework helped me gain a theoretical look into politics. Also, communication is a crucial skill for an attorney. You need to be able to communicate and understand the nonverbal and verbal cues associated with your clients, opposing parties and judges in ways that are respectful and appropriate.

What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship? I had the opportunity to shadow Mr. Aronowitz at a hearing for one of his main criminal cases. It was an amazing experience to be in the courtroom watching how attorneys defend their clients in front of the judge.

What did you like most about your experience? Getting hands-on experience. Before this internship, I had no idea about the process of submitting documents to the court or the use of pleadings. But the trust and independence I was given for each task was definitely what I enjoyed the most.

What did you learn about yourself? I learned that I should be a lot more confident. When I first started the internship, I was nervous to do anything because of the fear of messing up. I would constantly question myself and double check my work with the attorney. Now, I have learned to be more confident in my work and as an employee in general.

How did the position increase your professional confidence? I’ve always wanted to be an attorney, but I had zero professional confidence in the field. Outside of other reasons for my lack of confidence, I had never worked in a law firm before. I didn’t know what it took to be an attorney. Now that I have spent one year being a legal assistant, my professional confidence has increased significantly, more than I would have imagined.

How did you expand your professional network? I expanded my professional network mainly through meeting clients and other attorneys. Mr. Aronowitz’s office is located in a building with several other law firms, which allowed me to meet Mitchell A. Horwich from The Law Offices of Mitchell A. Horwich. He actually hired me as a legal assistant on the days that I am not at Mr. Aronowitz’s office.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” The internship helped me prove to myself that I have what it takes to make it as an attorney in the “real-world.” This internship helped me prove to myself that I made the right decision and that I have what it takes to become an attorney.

How did you get your internship? I got this internship through Panther JobLink. I definitely took advantage of the Career & Talent Development Department. As I mentioned, I never had a serious position at a law firm before and I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as much as possible before applying. I set up an appointment with the Career & Talent Development Department to get my resume reviewed and hone my interviewing skills.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Do not give up. You might not get a call back for an interview for every single job you apply for. You might get nervous during an interview. Or you might not know everything you need to know when you start your first internship. But do not give up. Everything will work out in the end.