Two Pointers in A Profession Ruled by Detail and Understanding

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By Giovanni Gaglianese, ’23

Interning for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was an amazing opportunity! I learned quite a bit about judicial standards of excellence, appellate procedure, decorum, and so much more.

As simple as it may sound, my first big task during the 2021 summer was making sure I understood what was being asked of me. I know, I know, you might want to say “Hey, Giovanni! Isn’t this a little late in the game to be misunderstanding assignments.” But the reality is law is like the finer things in life: they can fall victim to failing to pay attention to a myriad of details, like deciding what wine pairs best with your dinner. Before showing off how intelligent we think we are and impressing our supervisors, it was readily apparent how much attention we need to give our supervisor. I learned that before even starting an assignment, I needed to ensure I understood the scope of what needed to be done. And also, I needed guidance on how best to approach my work.

If it was legal research, I had to make sure my research emphasized the Court’s jurisdiction. This was especially important when the various Circuits pointed to each other’s legal analyses in particular doctrines and ensured that the case law emphasized our Circuit’s precedent. (The research wormhole is real.)Substantively, it was vital that I knew the breakdown of the legal area I was exploring. When conducting research for an appeal, I had to dive into the arguments being presented in the appellant’s and appellee’s respective briefs, and situate the parameters of my research within the broader legal schema. I believe this allowed me to strike the right balance (or at least attempt to). Moreover, these details need to be gathered prior to opening your favorite legal search engine. 

My next reflection is what some may consider resume buzz words—attention to detail. Lawyers and law students are certainly detail-oriented. However, creating a very polished document, or opinion, requires tedious attention to the mundane and thought-provoking alike. Whether it was the Third Circuit’s writing manual, the careful approach to articulating a highly complex legal issue, or simply doing every possible improvement on a writing product before handing it off to a supervisor—attention to detail is priceless (except when you can count the costs of a mistake). This is not exhaustive, particularly in legal writing, where a sentence lacking advocacy can change an entire case. What I learned is that a legal professional should always put their best foot forward in every circumstance whether it is a document draft, email correspondence, or even an outline for a larger work product. Our word is currency, and it is our job to ensure that currency stays valuable.   

Thank you to the University at Buffalo School of Law Summer Public Interest Funding & Fellowship Program, UB Alumni U.S.C.J. Julio M. Fuentes, and the brilliant clerks I worked under: Camila Vega, Megan Mcguiggan, Alexander Peacocke, & Francesca Cocuzza. I would also like to give thanks to the Savino Family – William F. Savino ’75, Elizabeth Martin Savino ’92, & Emma M. Savino ’18 – for the generous donation that made my Summer Fellowship possible!

Name: Giovanni Gaglianese, ’23

Name of Fellowship: 2021 William F. Savino ’75, Elizabeth Martin Savino ’92, & Emma M. Savino ’18 Summer Fellowship Award

Placement: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, The Honorable Julio M. Fuentes

Location: Newark, NJ (Remotely from Rochester, NY)

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “Our word is currency, and it is our job to ensure that currency stays valuable.”