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Many Pace University School of Law students returning to White Plains, NY from their summer stints as associates, or as interns in government and public interest agencies, report that the dose of reality provided by on-the-job training taught them a lot about the practice of law, and about whether they were on the right or wrong track. “Having an internship really helped me see how law school applied to the real world — which made the research I was doing much more meaningful,” said Ernest Abizo, a second-year Pace law student who worked on public utilities matters at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in New York City. “Now I understand what I should focus on.” The common theme among the students who expressed the most satisfaction with their summer employment was that they were given responsibility. Third-year law student Peter Casper earned school credit for his internship at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Natural Resource Division in Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of agency attorneys, he researched and wrote a motion to dismiss on a takings claim submitted by the Justice Department in the U.S. Court of Claims. Casper, a former Peace Corps volunteer, who taught English in Paraguay and Puerto Rico before entering law school, said the experience taught him that representing the government could be a worthy mission in life. “I used to think that I could only be an advocate for the plaintiff,” he said. “After this experience, I’ve realized that there are still credible arguments to be made on the government’s behalf.” On the other hand, fourth-year night student Nadine Parkes said she did not get the opportunity to take on the work of the attorneys in her volunteer position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Office of the Regional Counsel in New York City. And while she said her research and writing on toxic waste issues facing the Caribbean were intellectually stimulating, she said she would rather have been working on the consent orders the lawyers handled because it would have better exposed her to the legal process. The experience taught her that her desire to change the environmental policies of underdeveloped nations would be best achieved by a career in litigation. “Litigating is really more in line with my personality,” said Parkes, who works full-time at Clune, Hayes & LoPresti in Harrison, N.Y. Parkes, a native of Jamaica, in January was awarded a total of $5,000 from two minority fellowships, one from the New York State Bar Association’s Environmental Section, and one from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Environmental Law to support a summer internship in environmental law. CLIENT CONTACT Josephine Robinson, a second-year student, said the significant amount of client contact was one of the highlights of her experience at Schulte Roth & Zabel in New York City, where she earned $2,400 a week for 11 weeks. In one case, under the supervision of an attorney, she handled the work necessary to dissolve a corporation — which, as a Delaware incorporated entity, included contacting the State of Delaware about tax liability, as well as working with the client to get information for the required forms. “The fact that I dealt with a client on a real problem is something that I found incredibly helpful,” said Robinson. “The hands-on work really gave me the sense of what you will do as a lawyer.” Robinson also realized that not all large law firms fit the big-firm stereotype. “My impression of large law firms was that it was going to be stuffy. At Schulte, the lawyers and the partners were accessible, they were interested in my opinion, and gave me a lot of room for independent thought,” she said. Robinson, an African-American and a recipient of a Summer Minority Student Fellowship sponsored by the City Bar, was given an offer by the firm, which pays its first-year associates $125,000 a year. STUDENTS GIVE ADVICE Michelle Land, a second-year who served as a research associate with the Pace Law School Land Use Law Center in White Plains, said her summer training taught her the importance of negotiation. Her work focused on a model of existing laws for local municipal leaders wanting to protect the natural resources of the community. “I had all kinds of ideas about how to best protect our natural resources,” said the former wildlife biologist, who chose law school after becoming frustrated with the state of environmental conservation. “After doing this work, I realized that you have to take into consideration the constitutional rights of people. You have to work with others in order to gain something.” Parkes advised her colleagues to be prepared to get personally involved in an issue they care about, like the environment. Casper said he would tell students that before they dive into a project, they should spend time thinking about the most efficient ways to research an issue. Third-year law students Angel Nguyen and Vullmet Kolari said associates and interns should not be afraid to ask questions, even “stupid” ones. Nguyen had an internship with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Environmental Crimes Bureau; Kolari worked with the Pace Social Justice Center and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network in New York City.

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