Cassondra Mix Brigham Young University Law School
I recommend interning at the U.S. Attorney’s Office to everyone. My experience at the U.S. Attorney’s Office was very valuable to my law school experience. I had the opportunity to work in the Pocatello Branch office and I am very grateful that I did. The Pocatello branch is a criminal division with three attorneys, two full time support staff, and is located in the federal courthouse. Because of the location and dynamics of the branch office I had the opportunity to participate in many experiences that I otherwise would not have and was able to work closely with all three attorneys on many different projects.
Before beginning my internship I knew that I was interested in working in criminal law. This internship gave me the opportunity to experience working in this field. As a third year law student I was able to obtain a student license enabling me to appear in court. This, I think, was the best experience for me. I was able to appear before the court for arraignments, change of plea hearings, and sentencings. I had the experience of working with great defence attorneys and appearing before three federal judges. Everyone I worked with recognized that I was still learning and was very accommodating of my inexperience while still expecting me to do a good job representing the United States. The attorneys that I worked with were great mentors both in and out of the courtroom.
During the summer, I was put in charge of the trial preparation for a felony case and was expected to handle the case. It was a slightly overwhelming thought at first but as I worked on the case over the month before trial I learned a lot about case preparation and grew in confidence. I gathered the evidence and planned my case. I met with the victim and phone interviewed witnesses. My supervisor expected me to handle this case at trial and I would have done so if the defendant had not decided to plead guilty to a lesser charge shortly before trial. So instead of handling the trial I handled the intense change of plea hearing. It was an amazing opportunity that I don’t think any of my fellow law school classmates received.
In addition to the courtroom opportunities I also was able to draft motions and responses to motions, briefs, and indictments for different attorneys. The attorneys were always willing to talk though issues and help point me in the right direction when I got lost. The work I did was not just busy work; it was needed and was used. I participated in meetings with law enforcement agents (Idaho State Police, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and learned a great deal about the practical side of the criminal justice system. I was able to see the principles and law I learned in law school applied to actual situations. I received great hands-on experience in all aspects of the trial process and realized that I could actually do this work.
The training provided to interns is wonderful. I was able to participate in the weekly Wednesday brownbag sessions where experienced attorneys came and spoke to us about different areas of practice in the U.S. Attorney’s Office sharing actual cases that they had worked. Fridays, I spend time at the weekly writing workshop. Writing is one of my weakest areas but the workshop taught me some simple techniques which helped improve my writing over the course of the summer. I attended the day training available to U.S. Attorneys like Legal Advocacy training, sentencing training, domestic violence training, and MS-13 (gang) training. Additionally, my mentoring attorneys arraigned for after-hours experiences, such as going on surveillance with the local ISP detectives and a ride-a-long with the highway patrol. The attorneys work hard to make this an exceptional learning experience.
Each internship experience is different but I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to work in the Pocatello Branch office. I know that the experience I gained though this internship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office will stay with me and help me throughout my career. I highly recommend this internship to anyone, especially those who are considering working for the government. It will be a valuable experience that you will never forget.