The Return to Court as a Law Student 

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By Jessica Choai ‘23

During my undergraduate coursework at the University at Buffalo, I participated in a legal internship at the New York State Supreme Court for the 8th Judicial District. I observed court proceedings and did the legal work I was allowed to do as an undergraduate student. This was my first legal experience and had confirmed my desire to pursue my dream to become a lawyer. My first internship at the Court was an eye-opening experience that ultimately led me to where I am today. 

Finishing my first year as a law student at the University at Buffalo School of Law, in the midst of a global pandemic, has been anything but normal. This past year has been a whirlwind for many navigating through the new life we call normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After becoming accustomed to Zoom and Microsoft Teams over the last year, I was eager to start my judicial internship with Judge Ogden this summer at the New York State Supreme Court for the 8th Judicial District

Returning to the Court as a law student has been an enriching experience. I have been able to participate in court proceedings, write legal memos, and conduct legal research. My internship with Judge E. Jeannette Ogden has helped me grow as a law student and as a person. I was able to use the skills that I learned in my legal writing and my doctrinal classes this past year to write legal documents effectively. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to do an update on the Mental Health Law of the New York Jury Pattern Instructions and update the case law to Fourth Department cases. Furthermore, I conducted research analyzing the February 2020 amended trial court rule, limiting depositions to seven hours, and the factors judges should consider in deciding whether to extend the time. 

Despite the fact that my internship was completely remote, returning to the Court as a law student and interning with Judge Ogden has been an unforgettable experience. Since my first legal internship in undergrad was in person, having to return virtually was not what I anticipated. Still, it did not hinder my experiences nor provide me with any less work or support. With the flexibility of Microsoft Teams, it was easy for Judge Ogden and I to meet and go over my papers and discuss my work. This internship has also prepared me to be an attorney with a wide range of knowledge on how to conduct virtual meetings and how to be best effective as well. 

I would like to sincerely thank Judge Ogden and the NYS Supreme Court for providing me with this fantastic experience and being so supportive and helpful in guiding me in this opportunity to learn and experience the work of a New York Supreme Court Judge. 

I would also like to thank the University at Buffalo School of Law Summer Public Interest Funding and Fellowship Program and the donors of the Charles E. Mann Award and the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have received this summer thanks to this fellowship. 

Name: Jessica Choai ‘23

Name of Fellowship: Buffalo Public Interest Law Program Fellowship and Charles E. Mann Award  

Placement: Hon. E. Jeannette Ogden, NYS Supreme Court, 8th Judicial District

Location: Buffalo, NY

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “Always be open to growing and learning new things, challenging yourself to be outside of your comfort zone is where you grow the most!”