My name is Melanie Martinez, but I go by Mel and I am c/o ’22. I am currently a biology major as my intention is to be a patent lawyer. However, because Skidmore does not have a pre-law track, I find it necessary to make all my experiences off campus and outside of my academic environment to be within the law field.
This summer I was offered the opportunity to work as an intern at a law firm practicing Divorce and Family Law along with Consumer Bankruptcy Law. This includes but is not limited to child custody, child abuse and neglect offense, spousal maintenance, separations and family offense matters. All things which I had no initial interest in but because I find myself constantly being sympathetic and empathetic towards others personal issues, I thought I should give it a try.
Throughout this internship the morals and ethics that go into the practice of law have shown me a lot. Although procedures remain the same, individuals are whom shape the case. This ranges from the petitioner’s initial filing, to the judge and everyone who’s hands touch that petition in between. I mostly saw this during the preparation of an appeal we worked on. The respondent was not content with the courts final decision and we had to draw up an appeal which would then be taken to the appellate division for a determination as to whether the original court who had the case made the right decision.
Working on this appeal required us to retrieve all materials used in the trial, this includes exhibits, however, to understand the exhibits I had to read the transcripts. Those were days of trial on paper with the additional decisions and orders that lead up to the trial needing to be read as well. I had to create a table of contents of all exhibits the office had obtained to then go to the appellate division and look through the original file and compare our exhibits list to what was present. After doing this the attorney began to construct her argument for the appeal. Through this process we have had several Q&A sessions just for me to gain general knowledge on how you successfully construct an appeal.
Although appeals were a large portion of my summer experience there were also trials and general court appearances. For each, I was usually responsible for putting together the necessary files or doing the research for arguments and proposals. Court days were always the most exciting only because that’s when you could observe how well attorneys and the court were practicing the morals and ethics. It was a mixture of close observation with a bit of psychoanalysis.
The one thing I am grateful for is that this opportunity was presented to me and although I was unsure through the process of applying for the summer fund up until I started it has been a great experience. One thing I will share is that you can’t get discouraged, I was picked in the second round after taking that as a “sign” that this didn’t internship didn’t fit my plan nor was it close to it. Therefore, there’s always the possibility of things working out and taking chances being a good thing. If it isn’t what you like, at least it promotes growth and clarity. Now I know for sure that I do not want to practice family law but I also know how it works.