My internship with the D.C. district court

Name: Annasofia A. Roig

Major: Juris Doctor candidate, College of Law

Where are you interning? I am interning for a federal judge at the district court for the District of Columbia. The district court is the trial court in the federal court system.

What is your title? Summer intern

How did you get your internship? Given my performance in my first semester of law school, FIU Law encouraged me to apply for internships with federal judges. While I was in the interview phase of the process, then Dean Alex Acosta (now U.S. Secretary of Labor) called me and asked to meet with him. At our meeting, he asked if I would like to work for a federal judge in D.C. for the summer. While dean of the law school, Acosta would recommend one student annually to work for the judge I am working for. Naturally, it was an offer I could not refuse.

What projects have you worked on? As an attorney-in-training, the vast majority of my work centers around extensive researching and writing. We are also asked to cite check and edit various works drafted by our supervising clerks. The more exciting projects are the two cases that I was assigned for which I have drafted opinions. These opinions will eventually be published (after edits from the clerk and judge) in legal reports, and searchable as law on various databases.

How does your internship connect to your current coursework? The opinions that I am drafting for the judge are directly in line with the material that I studied during my first year of law school. The courses served as good background knowledge for my internship.

What was the coolest thing that has happened thus far in your internship? It’s been extremely interesting to work at a federal court in our nation’s capital, as the court hears many of the cases often in the news. One of the defendants from 2012 attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, is being tried in our courthouse; I’ve gotten to attend a number of the proceedings. The North Carolina man who fired an assault rifle inside a Washington, DC, pizzeria while investigating an online conspiracy theory known as “Pizzagate” was sentenced to 48 months in our court. And, more recently, there was a hearing on President Donald J. Trump’s advisory election commission.

What do you enjoy most about your experience? I’ve enjoyed the process of researching and writing from the judicial side of the proceedings. It’s been fascinating to assess the arguments being made by various attorneys from the perspective of the judicial branch. Having worked as a paralegal and having assessed the work of other attorneys from an adversarial perspective, I can definitely say that judges evaluate attorneys’ work very differently than do other attorneys.

What have you learned about yourself? At the beginning of my time here, I doubted myself on countless occasions. Being surrounded by law students from top 10 schools intimidated me. And I tended to defer to them on citations and edits. However, I quickly learned that none of my co-interns possessed any ability or skill that I did not, particularly given that we had all just finished our first year and, as a result, had similar baseline knowledge.

How has the position increased your professional confidence? I learned to have confidence in my abilities and skills. Having the opportunity to draft opinions on behalf of the court has been eye-opening in many ways. For one, I’ve realized that I am more than capable of producing the same caliber work as anyone else, including those that create the law. It has also helped me sharpen my research and writing skills, both of which will be instrumental to my success as an attorney.

How have you expanded your professional network? I’ve met many fellow interns, both in my judge’s chambers as well as some working elsewhere in the court. These future colleagues will be useful in brainstorming and collaborating down the line – particularly those with different areas of expertise. I have also met various clerks, who are attorneys already, as well as judges. Some of these individuals will be good contacts and references for jobs in the future. Many attorneys and judges are willing to give advice to budding young lawyers on potential career paths, which is extremely helpful as they have already been through similar experiences.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Be confident in your abilities. You would not have been extended an offer had you not been qualified to perform the job. Always be the hardest working person in the room, but remember to enjoy your time at the internship—meet people, hang out with them outside of work and attend work-sponsored events.

FIU in D.C. is working with more than 50 students interning in the nation’s capital this summer. The office has planned several networking programs and continues to serve as a resource for the students as they gain real-world experience in the city. To learn more about the opportunities available with FIU in D.C., visit the office’s website.