By: Jack Weisbeck ’24
Thanks to the University at Buffalo School of Law Summer Public Interest Funding and Fellowship Program, and the Hodgson Russ, LLP Summer Fellowship Award, I was able to spend this summer working as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York in their Rochester Branch. I had heard great things from both faculty and students at UB Law about the summer law clerk program at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I was excited to use the skills that I had learned during my 1L year to help those who serve our community.
I found very quickly that law school prepares students very well for some aspects of working in a legal office, while there are other aspects we can learn only by getting hands-on experience. I found that my 1L LAWR course prepared me well for the research and writing tasks that I was asked to do. I felt very comfortable navigating legal research tools and organizing my findings while writing. Classes such as criminal and constitutional law gave me a good background understanding of many legal issues that I was asked to research. The skills I learned in LAWR helped me to efficiently expand on that knowledge.
I quickly had to adjust to the flexible nature of a fast-paced office. During my 1L year, I had become accustomed to meeting deadlines that I could schedule weeks in advance. I learned that requests from a judge or from defense counsel can present issues that need to be addressed immediately. Throughout the summer I became more comfortable meeting deadlines that were within the same week, or sometimes the same day.
While my summer clerkship was a great experience, there were some emotionally difficult moments. The Tops mass shooting and the killing of Rochester Police Department Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz took a heavy toll on the office. I was impressed with the support that U.S. Attorney’s Office offered for the victims, and how everyone in the office supported each other during some difficult times for the Western New York Community. I was able to learn an important lesson about how attorneys must remain professional when they approach tragic and upsetting cases. This is a lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom, but it is a lesson that can be learned by working with the excellent public interest lawyers in the Western New York area who encounter cases like these far too often.
My advice for next year’s fellowship recipients is that they should never be afraid to ask for help or advice. If you are given an assignment that is confusing, you will always be able to find someone in your office to talk to. In my experience, Assistant U.S. Attorneys and other legal professionals in the federal courthouse were all willing to give valuable advice to law students. I appreciated that people from the courthouse, other public interest organizations, and federal law enforcement took the time to meet with the summer law clerks working in and around the federal courthouse this summer and talked with us about how they wound up at their current job.
Going into 1L year, I had the goal of working in a public interest organization over the summer, and I am very glad that I was able to do so. Working in a public interest organization is something that every law student should try to do. It exposes you to many of the problems facing our community, as well as the solutions that can help address those problems. It is also a great way to give back to organizations that do crucial work in the Western New York area. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the UB Law Summer Public Interest Funding and Fellowship Program and to Hodgson Russ, LLP for enabling me to afford to volunteer in public interest this summer. I would also like to thank my supervisors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kyle Rossi and Grace Carducci, for all their help and advice.
Name: Jack Weisbeck ’24
Name of Fellowship: Hodgson Russ, LLP Summer Fellowship
Placement: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York
Location: Rochester, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help and advice when you need it. Everyone you interact with has something that they can teach you.”