By: Cristian Cruzado
When I first started my summer internship working with the Honorable Richard A Dollinger at the Monroe County Supreme Court, I was scared but also surprisingly excited. I was scared because I was not sure what my role would be working in divorce court, and because I had virtually no experience in this area of law. I was excited, however, because I am a child of divorce. I know first-hand how much of an impact the process of going through a divorce can have on one’s life, and how deleterious the aftermath can be if there is still conflict between parents, especially when those conflicts are “because” of the child.
Thus far, my experience as an intern has been interesting. I have seen families who have been torn apart by the acts of one spouse or the other. I have seen children thrown into horrific custody disputes where they are essentially forced to choose one parent or another. I have seen parents come together and make extremely tough choices regarding their children. I have seen children who have been abused, either physically or emotionally, and hate their parents. Lastly, I have seen children who love their parents so much that they loath the decision of having to choose one to live with over the other.
During my internship I have had to help write decisions regarding divorces. I have sat in on pre-trial conferences and watched as attorneys deliberated with the judge to avoid going to trial. These experiences were made possible by the Francis M. Letro ’79 & Cindy Abbott Letro Diversity Fellowship Award from the University at Buffalo School of Law.
The last thing that I will be doing with the judge is writing an essay (hopefully for publication) which addresses the issues surrounding the problems children face. It will explore what the courts, legislation, and we as future attorneys can do to help mitigate these issues and provide the framework for children to feel safer during divorces.
All of this has made me realize something important. Children desperately need good representation to help in these proceedings. The attorneys I worked with did an excellent job in representing the best interests of the children they were advocating for, and it has made me considering changing career paths in an effort to help specifically in this area.
Name: Cristian Cruzado, ’22
Name of Fellowship: Francis M. Letro ’79 & Cindy Abbott Letro Diversity Fellowship Award
Placement: The Honorable Richard A Dollinger – Monroe County Supreme Court
Location: Rochester, New York
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I think the most important thing I learned was to accept that sometimes the law just isn’t going to be on your side. I learned (maybe relearned?) how important it is to remain impartial in these situations because no matter how you feel the law is the law and you just might not win.”