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Sara Riker Willamette University College of Law

The externship this past summer at the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Idaho, has been the highlight of my law school experience. It was an extremely well organized program, and provided the externs with many learning opportunities. The office provided weekly ‘brown bag’ sessions, where we learned from an experienced AUSA a certain area of law in depth. We also had weekly writing courses to improve our legal writing skills. We also got to take many “field trips” to local District Attorney Offices to observe state court proceedings, participate in Gang Training, and visit with agents of the Department of Homeland Security. The office did a wonderful job of making the externs feel like part of the team by including us in staff meetings, and planning fun activities for us.

The externship was truly exceptional in the amount and type of experience a law school student can get while working here. I worked in the criminal division, and was able to work with several different attorneys on a variety of subject matter. Most of my work focused on drug, firearm, and gang crime, which was an exciting and interesting area of law to work on. I also got to work on immigration, money laundering, and asset forfeiture cases. I often had to research complex issues and have a memo on the subject for my supervising attorney ready by the end of the day. I also got to work on larger projects with some of the other externs. I believe that my research and writing skills vastly improved over the summer, and I feel more confident in my work.

In addition to the legal research and writing experience, I was able to appear in Federal Court almost weekly. There were many opportunities to observe the attorney’s first, and soon I was allowed to conduct hearings by myself, with an attorney supervising. I handled change of pleas, initial appearances, and sentencing hearings. I also got to assist on a deposition, and helped one of my supervisors prepare for and conduct voir dire.

Overall the work was challenging but rewarding. I gained greater insight into what a Federal Prosecutor does. My writing skills grew; I gained court experience, and have more sure about myself as a future lawyer.