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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What I Did This Summer: Lianne Henderson ’15, Judicial Intern, Barnstable Probate and Family Court

Lianne Henderson is a second-year day student at New England Law | Boston. This past summer she worked as a judicial intern for the Barnstable Probate and Family Court. As part of our the November blog series highlighting student work, Lianne writes about her summer experience and explains how she found her internship.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as a judicial intern at the Barnstable Probate and Family Court through the Boston Bar Association’s (BBA) Summer Judicial Internship Program. I found the BBA’s posting on the school’s Symplicity website, which I checked daily beginning in December of my 1L year. I secured this position the same day I learned I would receive a generous stipend if I secured an internship that qualified as public service. My summer stipend was provided through New England Law | Boston’s Center for Law and Social Responsibility Summer Fellowship Program. Everything lined up perfectly and I was anxious to get the summer started.

I worked for two judges doing a lot of research and writing, and observed many trials and hearings. The probate and family court was far more diverse than I imagined. I worked on matters involving divorce, custody and visitation, guardianship and conservatorship, and some jurisdiction. I reported directly to the judges, and drafted numerous findings, judgments, and orders. I also observed trials and hearings and conducted research to compose memoranda to submit to the judges. I often joined the judge after an interesting hearing and discussed how we both felt about it. It was an amazing experience to see the judge’s perspective.

I was based in Barnstable, but through the BBA program I had the opportunity to have an orientation in Boston run by Attorney Denise Fitzgerald, the Administrative Attorney for all probate and family courts in Massachusetts. Additionally, I was connected to the BBA’s network and awarded the opportunity to do observation in other courts, like oral arguments in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Whitey Bulger trial in federal court, and a tour of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Whenever I got an e-mail about one of these opportunities, I took advantage of it, despite the long commute.

My biggest piece of advice is to be flexible. Had I limited my internship search solely to Boston, I would have had much more difficulty securing an internship. Additionally, most of the notices I received to observe other courts came within less than twenty-four hours of the event. Although it was inconvenient to travel to Boston for a one hour hearing, it allowed me to network and meet judges and attorneys, which was extremely valuable. Through this internship, I sharpened my legal research and writing skills and was able to see the judge’s perspective on numerous matters. I am extremely grateful for my summer experience through the BBA’s Summer Judicial Internship Program.

- Lianne Henderson, Class of 2015

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