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Heather Case, 3L

Where are you interning this summer?
I'm working at the Coos County District Attorney's Office in Coquille, Oregon (only a half hour from the coast!). 

What are your responsibilities?
As a court certified law student, I am able to appear in court on my own for some criminal matters. At the DA's office, I've been able to handle criminal prosecutions from start to finish this summer, as well as make plea offers, coordinate witnesses, negotiate with defense attorneys, put together jury instructions, prepare for trial, take guilty pleas, and recommend sentences. I also write motions regarding evidentiary questions (motions to suppress, motions to admit victim statements, etc.) for my own trials and for my coworkers.

Conducting jury trials on my own at the misdemeanor level has been a very valuable experience. Recently, I worked on two felony trials with my supervisor, which resulted in guilty verdicts!

How did you find and secure this opportunity?
I secured this job and my 1L summer job through the Northwest Public Service Career Fair in February. The fair is a great way to make connections!

What excites you most about your summer internship?
Working in a smaller county allows me to work on felonies and misdemeanors of all kinds, including domestic violence cases, property crimes, DUIIs, and crimes against police officers. The docket in Coos County moves very quickly, which has allowed me to move many cases through from arraignment to trial.

What knowledge, skills, or experiences are you hoping to gain?
I'm working on improving my writing skills and honing my legal research skills to address tight time constraints. I've also been gaining communication skills in working with attorneys, victims, and witnesses. I hope to further improve my trial practice skills, including opening statements, witness questioning and jury selection.

How have your studies at Oregon Law thus far prepared you for your summer internship?
Some of my classes have really helped prepare me for my summer job. My trial practice class was very valuable in teaching me how to prepare for court and address the judge and jury, as well as make persuasive arguments. I participated in a spring externship with the Lane County Circuit Court that helped familiarize me with circuit court rules and working with judges. My Legal Research and Writing and Advanced Legal Writing classes have helped with my clarity in motion writing.

Do you have any advice for future students curious about securing summer employment? Sharing your experiences in your field of interest, including volunteer service, makes you marketable. Speaking about tangible stories or work product brings your experience home and makes it easier for employers to quantify what you have done. Also, don't discount the friendships and connections you've already made! If you've made friends through law school who are now practicing attorneys, take the opportunity to learn from their experiences as you finish up.

Summer Employment 2013 Web Series