Get Started With Things Early and You Won’t Regret It

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By: Haley Case ’24

No matter what I ended up doing my first summer of law school, I knew it would be in the public interest and something where I would need to rely on the generous funding of the school and their public interest fellowships. When my class learned about the auction in the fall of my 1L year I thought it seemed like a great event for the School of Law and a very worthwhile cause to provide funding for students to pursue unpaid opportunities in the summer. For that reason, I reached out early to the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program (BPILP) chair of fundraising to offer my assistance with the 2022 auction. I got started right away with reaching out to a few local businesses to gather donations and had a few willing to participate, which was great to be able to help contribute to the items up for bid that night. 

Because I had connected with the chair early, I was also tapped on to reach out to other 1L students to ask them to volunteer their time and effort to participate in the event. I enjoyed getting to do that because it made me feel connected to the school and other students. People who I had only spoken to a few times or had never spoken to reached out to ask questions and express their interest in getting involved and I was happy to encourage them to be an active participant! I am glad I reached out so early to get involved and be able to help out with the event as much as possible. This is not the first time I saw a benefit from getting started on something that was important to me early, which I will discuss more ahead.

The event itself was very fun and a success! I would recommend anyone plan to attend the event or volunteer to help with it in the future. I had the opportunity to present the larger items for bid in front of the crowd at the event which was actually very exciting and enjoyable. I am thankful I got to be involved in such a big way to help raise money for fellowships. Helping with the event is what gave me the opportunity to be awarded the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program Fellowship Award, along with the Charles E. Mann Public Interest Award. Getting both of these awards was a wonderful honor and I am very thankful for the committee for selecting me. Both were very important for me this summer in being able to take on an unpaid internship which was an incredible experience for me.

This summer I interned with the Honorable Mark W. Pedersen in the Western District of New York, United States District Court. Interning with a federal judge was an experience far exceeding anything I expected to do after my 1L year. Another reason I advise people to get started on things early actually relates to this opportunity. The deadline for applying for this particular position was quite early in the cycle, before finals had finished up. I think it was to my benefit that I was able to apply at that time, possibly before other students had even begun to think about what they planned to do in the summer. And I was extremely fortunate that I did have the opportunity to interview for the role at the beginning of the spring semester, get the internship, and did not have the stress of a job search throughout the entirety of the semester.

The internship itself was a wonderful opportunity for me that I was lucky to have obtained. Judge Pedersen was a supervisor who truly cared about his interns having the opportunity to learn and strongly encouraged us to watch anything going on in the Court that interested us. I was able to learn a lot about the federal courts through watching various trials, hearings, conferences, and mediations going on these past few months. It was definitely a busy summer! The Judge and his awesome chambers staff also provided activities for us to learn and improve our skills. We participated in sit-downs with various members of the Court and other local attorneys. We learned how certain jobs work such as the Federal Public Defender, the US Attorney, Probation and Pretrial services, civil litigation, and a few others. The three other interns with Judge Pedersen and myself were also able to participate in mock hearings on real life past cases and get feedback from the Judge, his law clerks, and other spectators. It was an excellent experience where we were able to improve our oral argument skills and gain confidence in the court room.

The various research and writing assignments we were tasked with also provided a great opportunity to get feedback and improve our skills. Every assignment felt like a chance to do actual substantial work that was important to the Judge and law clerks, which was an opportunity I would have never expected after just my first year of law school. This type of feedback and experience will also be extremely valuable as I head towards another position in the summer after my 2L year and beyond, after completing school. I am extremely thankful for such supportive supervisors, a kind chambers staff (Vicki, Nate aka “Marty”, James, and Kelly!), awesome fellow interns (Catherine, Jess, and Sydney!), and wonderful people throughout the Court who made this summer special. I am also incredibly thankful for BPILP and the Mann family for awarding me the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program Fellowship award through the Summer Public Interest Funding & Fellowships Program and the Charles E. Mann Public Interest Award. Without these, I am not sure if I would have been able to work in a public interest setting this summer and gain the type of skills that I will use throughout the entirety of my legal career. 

Name: Haley Case ’24

Name of Fellowship: Buffalo Public Interest Law Program Fellowship

Placement: United States District Court, Western District of New York, Hon. Mark W. Pedersen

Location: Buffalo, NY

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I would recommend everyone plan to attend or volunteer to help out with [the BPILP auction]. I am thankful I got to be involved in such a big way.”