One of the great opportunities for a law student is to work in a judge’s chambers, and given the close relationships RWU Law has with dozens of state and federal judges, many of our top students get an insider’s view of the judicial process. Two close friends of the law school are United States District Judge Jack McConnell and Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran. Here are a couple reflections from rising 2Ls who are working with these leading jurists.
The drive from Bristol, RI to Woburn, MA (near Boston) is worth it. I cannot imagine a better view of the legal system than from the perspective of an Associate Justice of a Superior Court. This is not a sit-and-read experience. I am at sidebar with plaintiff's and defendant's counsel, in the judge's chambers identifying key points about the motions that come before him and his thought process behind why certain cases make it to trial, zooming in on specific functions of trial preparation and performance over lunch (e.g., opening statements, cross-examination, etc.), and researching and writing, as well.
Working for Judge Dennis Curran is exposing me to case management for a broad array of civil complaints, and gives me a special appreciation for the role of alternative dispute resolution, an area that appeals to me, especially as this year's Negotiation and Mediation Association (ADR) club president at RWU Law. Overall, the internship is especially helpful to me as a rising 2L because it puts each of my first-year topics into perspective and allows me to see both sides of the story - a feat that interning for a firm would not have offered. Lesley Jackson '14
Lesley with Judge Curran
This summer I have the privilege of working for Federal Judge Jack McConnell. I spend the majority of my time researching and writing but I also get time with the judge to discuss my work. One of the most interesting cases I have handled is a pro se claim in which an inmate alleges that his right to due process was violated when the Parole Board denied him parole. By working on this case, I have come to understand concepts which were not part of the 1L curriculum, such as habeas corpus, post-conviction relief, due process, and parole board proceedings. What impresses me most about Judge McConnell is his dedication to the humanity of the inmate, reminding me that despite a criminal conviction, the petitioner still has important constitutional rights which must be protected. Not only is Judge McConnell bright and accomplished, but he is also deeply humane. Josh Xavier '14
Josh with co-interns Samantha Clark and Nicole Verdi (both '14)