Marissa K

October 1st – October 26th (2 hours) – Recently, in my search for an internship, I have drastically improved my skills for talking over the phone. There obviously haven’t been many opportunities to speak with possible mentors in-person, so I ended up speaking with about five different law firms and leaving voicemails at two more. I learned that a lot of my worry over speaking over the phone is from how open-ended it is, so I began to create two different plans: one script for a voicemail and an outline of the most important things to say to the receptionist who picks up the phone. Preparation is important, but getting experience is the most important thing for future steps. I need to make sure that I am prepared for the many different outcomes of a call and am prepared to be flexible. I also got a lot of immediate feedback, as a lot of the firms were not open or willing to gain an intern, and though it was disappointing it wasn’t the end of the world. Getting used to negative feedback is important, as is continuing to try your best (which I am trying to do so that I can get a placement).

From Mrs. Wahl I hope to improve my writing and communication skills even more. I have struggled with this in the past, as I worry about being bothersome or having unhelpful questions. Getting feedback before I speak with mentors has been immensely helpful, such as on my reaching out letter and speaking over the phone about how to leave a helpful voicemail. Being confident is not one of my strengths, and gaining experience is important, but an expert’s feedback is required to make any experience meaningful. I don’t yet have a mentor, but I hope to improve my work ethic skills. The field of law is very demanding, and I hope to learn how to improve my outlook and schedule to insure that if I pursue the career I will be prepared. There is also a lot of perseverance involved, and making sure that I am driven and prepared to work for hours at a time is an important first step to being prepared to enter the workforce.

As a professional, I have learned that I need a lot of time to prepare. This is mainly because of my own insecurities, because I tend to freeze under pressure. Giving myself ample time has been enough to insure that I am able to get my work done on time and make sure that it is quality work. As a student, I have learned that my written skills are much stronger than my spoken skills. Taking time to write out my thoughts is much more effective than “thinking out loud” or trying to come up with a speech on the spot. Emails in particular have become very comfortable territory for me, while writing down phone call outlines improves my spoken performance as well.

October 27th – November 9th (2 hours) – I received a lot of new information on my first day interning, but the most impactful experience was when Briana went over the filing system with me, and I received a very large binder with all the possible petitions and relevant information about the petitions that can be filed in family law civil cases. Filing may be a menial task in other offices, but it is a crucial task that takes a lot of critical thought in a law firm. The shelves and shelves of binders (at least 4 for each case) was shocking to me, despite expecting that paperwork was important. Ensuring that all paperwork is properly formatted and saved is essential and even one typo or mistake can render a legal document useless. Most importantly, I learned that my work filing as an intern is very important, as a lot of work is required of the attorneys, who give tasks to their paralegals, who in turn rely on interns (such as myself and the law students) to complete tasks. Each person within the office then reviews and revises a document before sending it to their boss until it is finally sent off to the court and opping council. Having discussed the importance of filing with my mentor, I will be sure to be very careful when completing my tasks, which currently are mainly copying and sending documents, but later may including drafting basic legal documents such as a Notice of Appearance.

November 10th – November 23rd (9.5 hours) – This week I was able to help my mentor with a lot of filing. Mainly, this includes taking conformed copies of paperwork and placing them in the file chronologically. While I haven’t yet been able to familiarize myself with exhibits or a lot of the paperwork within the files, this can particularly help with understanding how “matters” open and close. Obviously, there is a lot of paperwork, but I learned while filing a petition for dissolution that there are 8 main forms that need to be filed when filing for a divorce. And when ending a case, most of the time the last order of business is that one of the parties tries to file for the opposing party to pay their legal fees. Though Arizona has it set up to where anyone can file for their own divorce, it seems quite clear that it would take a lot of time and effort to keep everything straight, and that if you put in the money for a good attorney you could actually not even have to pay them because they could fight so well that your opposing party could win. So much time and effort goes into law firms, and it really shows how having good counsel can help you with even something that seems as simple as a divorce. Even though I am doing a more unskilled job, I do feel like I am being a help to the attorneys and the paralegals at the firm as well, since I can free up their time by filing the paperwork so that they can quickly go over it later.

My internship site has fairly lax rules of conduct. Mainly, they care about listening and getting the job done. For instance, they don’t mind eating at workstations (when there isn’t paperwork) because they all work through lunch. They take breaks to speak to one other, though they mainly talk about cases and scheduling with little tangents about personal lives. Overall, there is a weird mix of responsibility and freedom, because they give each other (and me) free time and rarely go over each other’s work because they trust that they have finished their work on time. However, I have noticed that despite having no formal dress code, everyone definitely dresses business casual. For my work, I am expected to complete my work on time and quickly, often without the help of my mentor (though often I can ask the law school interns for their opinion). At the beginning of each day, I ask Briana if she needs any help first, and often file until the end when I receive a new training after Briana has finished most of her work for the day.

Often the biggest issue I have is getting to my site early, since I usually only show up about five minutes before I am supposed to start. Because of schoolwork, I often find myself running later than expected because I have to leave home at 1:20, get gas before I arrive, and get to my site in Tucson at 2:00 PM. Other than that, the work environment usually allows me to ask for help from one of the interns or paralegals. However, for this I usually struggle at the beginning of the day at asking for help, and warm up to socializing and speaking with coworkers by the end of the day. It feels a little bit awkward as a high school student working at a firm where even the other interns are all older than 24. Confidence is something I need to work on anyways, but I think more time at my internship site and interacting with the other workers will solve most of this issue. For instance, I am much more confident asking Briana, Tina, or Taylor for help than the other paralegals or interns.

In all the files I go through, there is a petitioner and respondent. These are the terms used in civil cases, different from the plaintiff and defendant used in criminal trials. The petitioner submits a petition, either on their own or with legal counsel, to request some type of change in their marital arrangement (such as a divorce, a change in parenting time, or to reconsider the amount of child support). Regardless of who later submits a petition, the original petitioner is always labeled as such for any suit between the same two parties.

November 24th – December 7th () –