By: Tabitha Salonen ’23
As I sit here reflecting on my summer and even my first year of law school at the University at Buffalo School of Law, I have a smile on my face and a sense of accomplishment. This is surprising, considering the many struggles that 2020-21 brought with it. Like all of my classmates, I had the pleasure of attending “Zoom School of Law,” which speaks for itself.
Going into my internship at the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office for summer 2021, I was worried about not living up to certain expectations that my supervisor may have now that I had completed one year of law school. This was because much of my introduction to the law was online. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to apply what I had learned my first year to my work in a practical setting. And, that’s exactly what I was looking forward to doing at the District Attorney’s Office, because I had interned there two years prior as an undergraduate, while completing my bachelor’s degree.
Those worries that I had quickly went away once started at the office. Suddenly, I understood conversations filled with legal jargon, knew what questions to ask my supervising attorneys, and made educated assumptions about what the prosecutorial abbreviations I heard daily meant. In my experience, the first year of law school curriculum trains your brain to start thinking like a lawyer. A UB Law School alumni once said to me that law school provides you with the “verbs,” and you are left to make sentences out of those verbs after you graduate. I think this analogy holds true. In fact, I began to string those verbs into sentences this summer.
The overarching goal that I set for myself before law school was to make the most of every opportunity that arose during my time at UB, despite the COVID circumstances. I kept that same goal in mind as I moved forward during my studies and this summer. I feel this sense of accomplishment has to do with the fact that I stuck to that promise to myself.
While I was searching for an internship during my Spring Semester, I listed out a series of items that I wanted to take from an internship to ensure I would meet that goal as mentioned above. The list reads: mentorship; further perspective; hands-on experience; feedback; exposure; and, an expanded legal network. Looking back at that list, I can confidently say I fulfilled all items.
As a law school intern for the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office, I made court appearances and practiced on behalf of the office in local and superior criminal courts with an approved practice order. Due to this, I gained practical experience that has afforded me the experience to speak comfortably on a party’s behalf within the courtroom. Such experience is crucial for my future success, and I look forward to continuing my work at this same office this fall.
As I look back, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and thanks to Dean Aviva Abramovsky and the Dean’s Summer Fellowship donors. I would also like to thank the University at Buffalo School of Law Summer Public Interest Funding & Fellowship Program for awarding me the 2021 Dean’s Summer Fellowship. Without this funding and your support, none of this would have been possible. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill my goals. Further, I would like to extend a big thank you to my first-year Legal Writing and Research Professor Angelyn McDuff for believing in me and preparing me for success in the office. Lastly, I would like to thank the entire staff at the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office, notably Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, for taking me under his wing and providing invaluable practical experience.
Name: Tabitha Salonen ‘23
Name of Fellowship: Dean’s Summer Fellowship
Placement: Genesee County District Attorney’s Office
Location: Batavia, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “A UB Law School alumni once said to me that law school provides you with the “verbs,” and you are left to make sentences out of those verbs after you graduate. I think this analogy holds true. In fact, I began to string those verbs into sentences this summer.”