University of Limerick Los Angeles Superior and Federal Court summer externship 2019
During my final year of Law Plus I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent UL on the LA Superior and Federal Court summer externship 2019, which is organised by the Irish American Bar Association. I spent two weeks in the Superior Courthouse followed by eight weeks in the Federal Courthouse.
During this externship I was linked up with four other Irish students who represented UCC, UCD, TCD, and QUB. During our time in LA all five of us lived together and got on well making the experience an easy transition. On our arrival we were collected at LAX airport by Mary O’Neill who was our contact for the Irish American Bar Association. Mary was hugely accommodating and helped with the visa process while also providing information regarding accommodation and any other queries.
The Irish American Bar Association is made up of several American lawyers and their families who have Irish ancestral roots. I spent my first two weeks in LA living with these accommodating families before moving into my own housing. The Irish American Bar Association also enhanced the experience culturally and socially by organising events such as dinner parties and bringing us to baseball games along with several other social outings!
I completed orientation in the Superior Stanley Mosk Courthouse and spent the first two weeks observing here under the supervision of Judge Mary Anne Murphy. This gave me a great insight into the intricacies of the American legal system. I was exposed to a wide variety of legal areas in the courtroom. Judge Murphy also organised several visits including, a visit to the coroner’s office, the children’s dependency court, and we got to watch the Supreme Court and District Court Oral Arguments and got a tour of the Metropolitan Detention Centre.
My work throughout the following eight weeks centred on legal research and writing assisting my assigned judge on ongoing cases. I spent half my time with Chief Magistrate Judge Walsh and the other half with Judge Cormac Carney. This was insightful as both judges have different roles, which exposed me to a different work load. I also worked alongside the judge’s clerks and American externs, which made my time there fun and exciting! My work included jurisdictional checks, drafting second amended complaints for prisoners pursuing a case, drafting orders to grant or deny permission to alter judgments, drafting orders to grant or deny permission to file documents under seal, and several other assignments while I was also allowed to sit in on trials and I even witnessed my judge conducting a marriage ceremony between a prisoner and his now wife. Once I had completed an assignment, my judge would go through my work with me highlighting any changes necessary or perhaps where I had done a really good job. A lot of my work in the Federal Courthouse consisted of working with legal databases including Lexis and Westlaw.
This highly coveted experience has given me the required confidence to further my studies at UL by pursing a Master of Laws (General). I will never forget this experience as it has greatly enhanced my legal awareness and made me appreciate the importance of travelling while gaining a new insight on the world by meeting different people and experiencing new cultures and working environments.