By Alexandra Stasio ’23
After a year of remote learning at the University at Buffalo School of Law, the transition from staring at the four corners of my MacBook to spending every day with Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. and his team in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York was a much-needed change. Before starting this internship, I had overwhelming feelings of doubt and inadequacy—questioning my ability to succeed in this new role. After spending twelve weeks in Judge Sinatra’s chambers, all feelings of uncertainty dissipated.
This summer has been an invaluable learning experience and an affirmation of why I chose this career path. A typical day in chambers consisted of observing a variety of civil and criminal proceedings, completing research tasks, and assisting in drafting judicial opinions. I didn’t feel like I was just an intern but, rather, a part of the team.
One of the most rewarding parts of my summer experience was having the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I acquired in the classroom during my first year of law school—particularly my Legal Analysis, Writing & Research (LAWR) course. This practical experience is more valuable than I realized when I first began law school. Not only does it actively encourage professional development, but it also serves as a motivator, offering a preview of what real legal practice looks like.
Interning in federal court has raised my awareness of how the community relies on the judicial system. Without a structured judicial system, justice would be near, if not entirely, impossible. And being a judicial intern has certainly shown me the true importance of fairness, efficiency, and impartiality.
Some advice for incoming 1Ls:
I think an important component of succeeding in law school and your summer internship is the ability to overcome feelings of doubt and insecurity. These feelings are inevitable. But even so, with experience comes confidence. Gaining this experience requires a leap of faith toward opportunity—even the opportunity that scares and intimidates you. It is so important to do the things that scare you because, in the end, you realize they weren’t so scary after all.
In addition, it is important to recognize how much your reputation truly matters. Kindness goes a long way, and it requires minimal effort to be kind and courteous to those around you!
To conclude, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the donors of the BPILP Public Interest Fellowship. This fellowship enabled me to learn and grow as a law student, and I could not be more grateful. I’d also like to thank Judge Sinatra and his law clerks, courtroom deputy, and court reporter for their kindness and mentorship this summer.
Name: Alexandra Stasio ’23
Name of Fellowship: Buffalo Public Interest Law Program Fellowship
Placement: United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr.
Location: Buffalo, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “Gaining this experience requires a leap of faith toward opportunity—even the opportunity that scares and intimidates you. It is so important to do the things that scare you because, in the end, you realize they weren’t so scary after all.”