Turning 1L Experience Into Action

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By: Sydney Brason ’24

This summer, thanks to the University at Buffalo School of Law Summer Public Interest Funding & Fellowship Program, I was lucky enough to work as a Judicial Intern in the 8th Judicial District, Erie County Supreme Court under the guidance and supervision of Justice Deborah Chimes. I was so excited to be able to have this opportunity, as it was a professional goal of mine to intern for a judge during my 1L summer. I would like to extend my gratitude to Francis M. Letro and Cindy Abbott Letro for their generosity; without this summer fellowship program and your generous donation, many of us students would not be able to experience and benefit from the invaluable opportunities working for the courts and other public interest organizations here in Western New York.

Interning for a judge has opened my eyes to the court system and has given me vital skills that I will take with me moving forward in my legal career. I had the opportunity to observe court hearings and sentencings, research a variety of legal matters, as well as draft motions, bench briefs, and opinions. I had the privilege of being exposed to court personnel who welcomed me each time I entered the courtroom or the judge’s chambers. I always knew that Buffalo had a close-knit legal community; I just didn’t quite grasp how close. Everyone in Buffalo treats one another with an extraordinary level of respect, and everyone I interacted with made me feel comfortable while also ensuring that I was getting the most out of every experience.

Judge Chimes not only welcomed me with a warm smile each time we saw each other, but she took me along with her, allowing me to shadow her and be immersed in every aspect of her role within our legal system. I will be forever grateful to her for showing me the ins and outs of her day-to-day life as a judge, and for challenging me with various research and writing assignments. At the beginning of the summer, I felt that I had a strong foundation from my 1L LAWR course; however, after being given real world assignments, I felt as if everything clicked into place. I was also able to step outside of my comfort zone in writing legal opinions in areas of the law that I was unfamiliar with coming out of my 1L year. Judge Chimes was kind enough to take the time to sit down with me on several occasions to go through each of these assignments so that I could thoroughly understand exactly what areas of my writing needed improvement.

I would again like to express my extreme gratitude to the donors of the UB fellowship program as well as Francis M. Letro and Cindy Abbott Letro for providing this experience for me and many others. I would also like to thank Judge Chimes for challenging me with research and writing assignments and providing valuable feedback and advice for me as I move forward in my legal career. I can honestly say that I came out of the summer with a stronger sense of what I hope to achieve in the next few years and after graduating. I look forward to continuing to stay involved with the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program as an at-large board member and hope to encourage involvement and sponsorship so that other law students can have similar opportunities in years to come!

Name: Sydney Brason ’24

Fellowship: 2022 School of Law Public Interest Fellowship

Placement: The Honorable Judge Deborah Chimes

Location: Buffalo, NY

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I was also able to step outside of my comfort zone in writing legal opinions in areas of the law that I was unfamiliar with coming out of my 1L year.”