By: Jenna Wojdan ’24
If you had asked me what I would be doing this summer at the beginning of law school at UB, the absolute last thing I would have guessed would have been “working as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s Office”. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to work in government (I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at all!), and I admittedly applied for this position on both a whim and a gut instinct. My instincts were right; this summer has been the highlight of law school so far.
There are the three things that first-year law students are supposed to accomplish during their 1L summer internship:
- Get a writing sample.
- Narrow down your interests.
- Build your network.
It goes without saying that I also wanted to learn and experience all the things, but I planned on spending my summer at the USAO meeting at least these three objectives. By the end of the summer, not only had I accomplished all of those, but I really did so much more.
Like my fellow clerks, I was assigned to several Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) in the office; one in the civil division, one in the narcotics and organized crime division, and one in the general crimes division. I researched a variety of topics, ranging from constitutional questions, procedural complications, and case-specific civil and criminal issues. I also drafted a variety of documents, including memos, motions, jury instructions, and replies. I was able to observe a wide range of court and litigation proceedings, including oral arguments, pleas, sentencing, status conferences, and a portion of a state court trial. We also had a weekly speaker series, where we heard from legal professionals from the area. We heard first-hand accounts, received advice, and had our questions answered by state and federal judges, JAG officers, private practice attorneys, defense attorneys, and more! We even went on several field trips to the Peace Bridge, FBI, Buffalo Police, Erie County Training Center, and on a boat tour with Erie County Sheriffs. These field trips and speaker series were extremely educational and allowed us all to gain a more well-rounded understanding of law enforcement and our federal agencies.
I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I learned and how much more efficient my research and writing skills are now; this experience was truly invaluable. I was able to secure several writing samples, and I was able to confirm where my legal interests lie. But, perhaps most importantly, I have built my network with meaningful relationships. Every attorney I worked with (which was much more than just the few I was assigned to) was truly a mentor; they not only made sure I learned and understood the task at hand, but also provided professional advice and encouragement. My fellow law clerks and I also became close this summer. I truly believe that the relationships we formed will last through law school and beyond.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank Ross M. Cellino ’82 and Anna Marie Cellino ’81 for providing the fellowship that funded my summer internship. As a non-traditional student, a decade older than my peers with a family, without their generosity, it would not have been possible for me to accept this position. I would have missed out on the most incredible professional and educational experience I have ever had, and for this opportunity I am forever grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Name: Jenna Wojdan
Name of Fellowship: Ross M. Cellino ’82 and Anna Marie Cellino ’81 Fellowship
Placement: United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York
Location: Buffalo, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I learned and how much more efficient my research and writing skills are now; this experience was truly invaluable.”