Pre-Law Intern Alletia Smith
Having the opportunity to participate in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship internship this semester has been one of the most hands on and useful classes I have taken at this university. Being that it was like an independent study type class, which I had never done before, I wasn't sure how focused and involved I would be able to get, but that very set up is what allowed me to be introduced to a lot of different information I needed to know about Law school. From weekly meetings and law society activities, to interning at a law firm, and also attending conferences, I was able to see all sides of not only what law school would be like, but also the different aspects and areas of practice a law degree can be applied to. I felt like this class was really helpful to me as a 1st generation college student, and an African American female, in showing me why I should continue higher education past my bachelors. With this class I was able to gain a lot of very important information about what I need to do to become a better law school candidate, and how the skills I am taught will benefit me in life both professionally and privately.
One part of my internship was working with my mentor, Justin Henry, who is a 2L law student here at UT. I expected Justin to be busy for a law student and not be able to do much, but he was really committed in helping me layout a plan to make sure I was exposed to all the aspects of the law school application process, student life, and career opportunities available. The first thing we did was visit the admissions office where he introduced me to the Dean of Admissions, Monica Ingram, and showed me the different resources they had in the office for prospective students that I could use when I start the application process. He also introduced me to some of his professors, and gave a tour of law school which really helped me imagine myself as a law student there; now its one of my favorite places to study. To be more hands on, Justin assigned me homework consisting of cases from his classes, and we would go over them together at our weekly meetings. Working on the cases helped me get an idea of the level of reasoning and analysis you use as a law student. We also worked on how to articulate the concepts I learned, and also how they apply them across the broad range of classes and subjects in law school such as torts, constitutional law, etc. Doing these assignments gave me an idea of what professors will be looking for on homework, and were really motivating for me because I was able to reason and understand the relationships between the concepts without prior knowledge of the class or case! Another thing I did was attend some of Justin's classes to get a better feel of what the learning environment would be like. I was able to see how involved the professor wanted the students to be, and how they make you reason and work through the information in order to learn it, opposed to just feeding it to you in a lecture like many undergrad courses. This type of learning was appealing to me because I understand how you retain information better. Some other things we did were LSAT and application prep, and I also got tips about writing my personal statement, and on how to put together a great application for law school.
Justin also helped me attend the National Black Leadership Conference this year in Houston, which is put on the expose prospective and current African American law students to everything about law school, the profession, and career opportunities available. The conference was one of the highlights of this internship, because I really got to connect with different students from different schools who shared some of the same goals and interest as me about law school. We got to meet a lot of admission directors, judges, and a variety of law professionals who practiced in firms, the government and non-traditional law whose gave recounts of their own personal experiences and answered any questions we had. With the host of panels and socials, I was able to get a lot of myths displace about law school, such as having a top notch GPA or LSAT score being the only components that matter in the decision process. I learned that every law school's process is different and they are looking for different things in a candidate, so it is important to present yourself specifically for what the individual school is asking for. I also learned that law schools are not so much looking for perfect students, but more importantly well rounded students, because those experiences and life lessons are what help make you a more successful law student and lawyer.
Another opportunity I had was being an intern for The Martinez Jones Law Firm here in Austin. The head lawyer, Aurora Martinez-Jones, started her law firm right after she graduated from UT-Law in 2006, with the help of the lawyer she had been interning with during her time there. This was especially inspiring, because it showed me not only how important networking is, and the doors it can open for you, but also the flexibility in the career options I can pursue. The Martinez Jones Law Firm specializes mainly in personal injury law, but also handles CPS, and will and estate cases, so this internship was unique because it really allowed me to get a hands on feel of what It was like to work in a law firm, and what skills lawyers used in their everyday practice. Some things I did were prepare personal injury petitions, which required me to learn not only how to research efficiently, but also be able to articulate the concepts needed for the client in the petition. I also attended offsite CPS cases with Aurora, and got to see how lawyers interact with other institutions to make sure their client know what's going on, and how what's discussed will affect them. This part of the internship really gave me a sense of the different types of environments and work lawyers do at any given time, and how flexible they need to be when taking care of all of their clients needs.
Throughout this internship I learned so much and connected with a lot of people not only applying to law school, but also professionals who really are invested in helping us get into law school and out in the law field. I learned that I have a support network available, but I am going to have to be more determined and forward about my goals and in doing so I will find a lot of resources available to me to help me get through law school. I am more excited about applying to law school, and even more excited to know that I can be very successful in the field. I have already encouraged a lot of my friends about this internship, who are looking for a class that will help them get a better idea of their prospective career paths; and I will continue to tell people about the IE-pre graduate internship because so many students just don't have personal mentors as examples and resources of information about graduate school or professional school, especially first generation students. I think this internship creates the needed environment where we as students get to really explore inside these fields, and feel more confident about our own talents and what we can do.