The Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF)’s Virtual Judicial Internship Program was created to provide a meaningful experience for law students whose summer plans were disrupted by the new challenges COVID-19 poses in the legal field. This Summer 2021, legal professionals from across the state came together to create a program that would allow students to engage and connect with the legal community and gain invaluable experience working for a judge from the safety of their homes.
In addition to pairing students with judges and attorney mentors, the program required interns to conduct research and prepare a capstone project on a legal issue interesting to them. Thanks to the hard work of our diverse group of students from law schools across Georgia, we gathered a research repository of varying topics. From body cameras to bankruptcy, our interns compiled projects meant to assist members of the judiciary, attorneys, and the general public in learning more about issues they see within the law.
To demonstrate our gratitude to GLLF, our Judges, and our mentors, we reached out to a few interns to share reflections on their time in the program.
"I am so grateful to those at GLLF, as well as Judge Leftridge and those who work alongside her, for both organizing and participating in this program. It has been a well-rounded experience, exposing me to a variety of topics and proceedings in the legal field. Working with a judge is a unique, incredibly valuable experience and GLLF brought that to so many law students."
-Lora Haas, Intern for Judge Melynee Leftridge (Superior Court of Fulton County)
I owe the VJIP experience for giving me two wonderful mentors and guiding me in learning what I like and don’t like about law. Working with a fantastic Senior judge, I got to see the inside of many different courtrooms and have a breadth of different experiences. I would not have found my love of public defense if it wasn’t for GLLF. I learned an invaluable amount from my Judge and mentor who would drop everything to help me if I had a question. Thank you to Judge Bishop, Attorney Markowitz from the Fulton Public Defender’s Office, and everyone who worked so hard at the GLLF to make this program a success!
-Ashley Starnes, Intern for Judge Joe Bishop (Superior Courts of Georgia)
This summer has been a raging success. I really enjoyed my judge’s trusting me to work on cases since the beginning of the internship. I was able to explore the legal issues on my own, but I was also given the opportunities to brief the judge about my findings both orally and in written memos. The research is no easy task—for a single summary judgment motion, it can give arise to multiple legal issues. I believe this experience has not only helped me hone my writing and oral communication skills, but also helped me to learn how to be a better advocate. This summer has been a raging success. I really enjoyed my judge’s trusting me to work on cases since the beginning of the internship. I was able to explore the legal issues on my own, but I was also given the opportunities to brief the judge about my findings both orally and in written memos. The research is no easy task—for a single summary judgment motion, it can give arise to multiple legal issues. I believe this experience has not only helped me hone my writing and oral communication skills, but also helped me to learn how to be a better advocate.
- Yaou Ren, Intern for Judge McClelland (State Court of Forsyth County)
I am deeply grateful to the GLLF for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of their program this summer. I gained more valuable knowledge from the GLLF workshops and the summer working with Judge Van Pelt than I could have ever gained in years of school. I am especially grateful to Judge Van Pelt for taking the time to allow me to be his intern and for teaching me this past summer. I gained much experience and wisdom during my summer as his intern, and in getting to know him, have made a dear friend. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity the Georgia Latino Law Foundation and Judge Van Pelt gave me.
- Mark Smart, Intern for Judge Van Pelt (Superior Court of Catoosa County)
I can't express in words how grateful I am to GLLF and every judge who participated in this program. Due to Covid-19, I was in Korea and could only engage in a virtual internship. The Georgia Judiciary stepped up and provided me with an invaluable opportunity to gain exposure to the judiciary and how a court system works. I can confidently say that I've learned from the best this summer. I can't wait to meet Judge Doyle in person this September!
- Mingyu Jun, Intern for Judge Doyle (Court of Appeals of Georgia)
Again, we would like to emphasize that this internship would not have been possible without the hard work of the GLLF committee as well as the support from judges and legal professionals willing to volunteer their time to serve as mentors and guide law students. We also provide a special thanks to the Georgia State College of Law Library staff for allowing this collection of research to be stored in their legal database. Finally, the GLLF appreciates all the judicial interns that worked hard to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and make this program a success for the second year in a row.