By: Madeline Becker ’24
This summer I was lucky enough to intern in the Chambers of Judge Julio M. Fuentes, Senior Circuit Judge for the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. My internship experience kicked off in an incredibly exciting way- with the opportunity to observe two days of oral arguments in front of a panel of judges on the Third Circuit, including Judge Fuentes. The Judge’s law clerks had been nice enough to forward their materials on each case in advance, so my fellow summer clerks and I were able to understand the legal issues and parties in the case before hearing the attorneys’ oral arguments. At the arguments, I got to hear lawyers of all different practice areas and geographic areas within the Third Circuit argue in front the panel. It was an incredibly valuable experience to hear these different oral arguments given that I had just given my first oral argument as a mandatory part of my first year Legal Analysis Writing and Research class. It was so valuable to see the different approaches of all the attorneys and how their arguments were received by the panel of judges.
After the arguments, I got to meet the Judge and the clerk that I would be working with, to ask them questions regarding their opinions of the cases, and to discuss the upcoming summer. I also then found out that I would be able to write a draft of a non-precedential opinion for one of the cases we heard at oral argument. I would have never thought that, as a first-year law student, I would be able to help draft an opinion for the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Even though a non-precedential opinion is binding only on the parties, not the whole Circuit, it was amazing to help write something that would be issued by a federal circuit. In addition to the opinion, throughout the summer I wrote reviews of precedential opinions for the Judge’s consideration as well as recommendations for hearing immigration appeals. The law clerk to whom I was assigned was so patient and helpful the entire summer; he consistently gave me helpful tips and advice for legal writing that helped me continuously improve. I so highly recommend spending a summer working a judicial internship because of the exposure to different kinds and styles of legal memoranda, and for how that exposure leads law students to realize that there are different ways to do things correctly.
I would not have been able to grow in this way as a law student if not for the Jessica Ortiz ’05 Federal Judicial Internship Fellowship. I am so grateful to the donors to this fellowship for allowing me the opportunity to have this experience; I truly feel like it has improved my legal reading, writing, and comprehension skills in a way that no other internship would have. My time in the Chambers of Judge Fuentes has given me skills that I will carry with me through the rest of law school and into my career, and I feel so lucky to have been offered this opportunity through the Jessica Ortiz ’05 Federal Judicial Internship Fellowship. I would like to again thank Jessica Ortiz for her generous donation to the University at Buffalo School of Law Funding and Fellowship Program, which allowed me to learn so much this summer. Thank you.
Name: Madeline Becker
Name of Fellowship: Jessica Ortiz ’05 Federal Judicial Internship Fellowship
Placement: United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Location: Philadelphia, PA
One important lesson I learned during this fellowship: “I would have never thought that, as a first-year law student, I would be able to draft an opinion for the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Even though a non-precedential opinion is binding only on the parties, not the whole Circuit, it was amazing to help write something that would be issued by a federal circuit.”