Externship Program Newsletter

Friday, May 5, 2017

Program News

The halls of Van Hecke-Wettach Hall are quiet as we say farewell to the class of 2017 and close the books on a busy and productive spring semester for students, supervisors, faculty and staff in the UNC Law Externship program. At Carolina Law we guarantee each student the opportunity to participate in a law clinic or externship before graduation. This spring we worked with a record-high 66 students who gained practical hands-on experience working alongside the dedicated judges and lawyers who partner with our program. In a few short weeks, we’ll begin a new journey with 40 summer externs; many of whom will be testing their skills and knowledge in a law office for the very first time. Through this newsletter, we hope to share a small window into their accomplishments as well as the lessons they will carry with them as they complete the transition from student to practicing lawyer.

Semester in Practice Highlights

Nina Totenberg, Lauren Russell, Maria Savasta-Kennedy
Nina Totenberg (NPR), Lauren Russell,
Prof. Maria Savasta-Kennedy
"Spending a semester helping Nina Totenberg cover the Supreme Court was an incredible opportunity to see the best in both law and journalism."
-Lauren Russell, '18

This spring Lauren Russell externed with NPR in Washington, DC through a Semester in Practice Externship.

"Prior to attending Carolina Law, I worked at CNN for three years. I went to law school because I wanted to gain more research and writing skills, but I still had that journalism itch. Spending a semester helping Nina Totenberg cover the Supreme Court was an incredible opportunity to see the best in both law and journalism. I got to know the voices and questioning styles of justices whose written words I had memorized over my first three semesters of law school. I also contributed to the coverage of a new justice rising to the Supreme Court, beginning with the guessing of who would be nominated to fill the open seat, to covering the hearing and votes at the Senate, and then seeing the fresh-faced Justice Gorsuch at his first day of arguments. Back at NPR, it was amazing to witness Nina’s process of breaking down complicated cases and arguments in accurate, digestible ways. I had the opportunity to write for NPR a few times, and to have Nina give me feedback on my work. This experience, both what I witnessed and researched, and how I contributed to NPR’s coverage of the Supreme Court, was an invaluable experience for me at this juncture in my life. I am grateful for Carolina Law’s support for me to pursue this externship position, and for the foundational legal analysis and writing skills I had gained during my first three semesters of law school – and I think Nina was too."

—Lauren Russell, Class of 2018

Interested in our Semester in Practice Program?
Contact Professor Maria Savasta-Kennedy, or Program Coordinator Melissa Wood-Saltzman, for more information.

Spotlight on the US Attorney's Office (EDNC):

This spring, five fortunate UNC Law 2Ls and 3Ls had the opportunity to extern with the US Attorney’s office (EDNC). Under the able and enthusiastic leadership of AUSA Banu Rangarajan, students were introduced to the work of a Federal Prosecutor and given ample opportunity to try on the role themselves. Weekly training sessions with Criminal Division Chief Dennis Duffy and other members of the federal law enforcement community taught them key litigation skills and provided an understanding of the foundational legal concepts required to succeed as an Assistant United States Attorney. Students were also paired up with individual mentor attorneys depending on their goals and were assigned to a weekly rotation in duty court (Federal Magistrate’s court). For many students, the highlight of the experience was appearing in federal court under the student practice rule. Students this semester:

  1. Prepared and conducted the direct examination of an expert witness in a 4248 Civil Commitment hearing in federal court;
  2. Ran a session of Misdemeanor Court at the New Bern courthouse, prosecuting misdemeanor crimes committed on federal property;
  3. Prepared and conducted a Revocation hearing in district court;
  4. Prepared and conducted many initial appearances and detention hearings; and
  5. Prepared witnesses for trial.

We are grateful for the effort that went into creating this amazing opportunity for our students to make real progress on their litigation skills under the guidance of attorneys who are committed to their professional development. Here’s what a few of the spring semester's externs had to share about the experience:

Shannon O"Looking back on my work over the past semester, I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished. I knew going into it that externing at the U.S. Attorney’s Office would push me well outside of my comfort zone, and that was undeniably the case. My supervisor pushed me to appear in court as much as possible, and I feel I rose to the challenge. As a result, I now not only have a better understanding of federal prosecution, I am also more confident in my abilities overall.

The goals I set at the start of the semester provided a helpful framework, and I feel that I succeeded in accomplishing everything I set out to do and more. I tried to jump at every opportunity that was presented to me, even when it was something well outside my wheelhouse. Along the way, I formed positive relationships with my coworkers and mentors, and learned to not be afraid to ask for help. I will walk away from this externship having gained valuable professional experience and also having expanded my professional network."

—Shannon O’Neil, '17
Shawn Johnston"I am very proud of the work I did this semester at the US Attorney’s office. The externship provided me with a tremendous opportunity to work with seasoned prosecutors on a broad range of cases. This exposed me to a wide array of prosecutorial tactics and helped me to hone my professional craft. My primary goals going into the semester were to improve my legal writing and research skills and to become comfortable appearing in court. The strides that I made this semester in legal writing and research have been the most significant since I started law school. Through constant analysis and preparation of court documents, the externship forced me to practically apply the legal skill I’ve learned in the classroom. These strides were only advanced through the courtroom opportunities the externship provided.

Court preparations pushed me toward a deeper understanding of the law. I diligently prepared for court appearances in order to ensure that I was well prepared to handle situations on my feet. I found the only way to effectively do so on a consistent basis is through tireless preparation. As the term went on and I became more familiar with specific areas of the law, the required level of preparation became easier to achieve. For me, that was a great indicator of the improvements made in just a few short months.Some of the discussions I had with supervising attorneys were the most insightful legal experiences I’ve ever had. They really helped me to understand how important constructive peer/supervisor feedback is to my learning style. While I enjoy being praised for good work, I take the most out of constructive feedback and view it as a challenge to do better. Ultimately, this process has helped me to continue to improve my overall performance.

All in all, the externship furthered my interested in prosecution. I have a passion for the responsibility that comes with the position and I would love to make it a career."

—Shawn Johnston, Class of 2018
Jennie Cunningham"I was incredibly grateful that Banu set up a series of weekly training sessions, on topics such as trial advocacy and sentencing issues. These were extremely valuable and we learned material that I would consider the equivalent of an entire class worth of coursework. I also received extremely thorough feedback from almost every attorney I worked with. One AUSA worked with me on 4-5 drafts of a prosecution memo. He took the time to redline every single draft with care and constructive suggestions, and to follow up with in-person meetings numerous times during the process. I would say this is probably the most detailed written (and verbal) feedback I have received throughout my entire time at law school."

—Jennie Cunningham, '17

Student Experiences

Whether it’s peering behind the curtain of the “black robe” to understand how judges make decisions or listening in on a conference call as in-house counsel collaborates with an outside litigation firm, externships have the power to remove some of the mystery behind the practice of law and boost students’ confidence in their ability to succeed as advocate and counsel. Once students get a taste for the value of experiential learning, they often come back for more.  We are pleased to be able to provide multiple opportunities for many Carolina Law students to try-on a variety of practice areas and immerse themselves in viewing different angles of the same systems to polish their skills and discover their own best fit. Below, a few of our spring externs describe the value gained from stepping outside of the classroom and into the field of practice. 

Brian Gamsey "As someone who wants to work as a transactional attorney, the experience I have received at UNC Kickstart Ventures Services has given me tangible and intangible skills I know I will bring with me into practice. One of the most valuable skills I have gained is learning how to ask the right questions. The focus for attorneys is so often having the right answer. However, if you don’t know which questions to ask, you cannot find the right answer. By working with the experienced team at Kickstart, I learned how to identify which questions need answering. I have also learned the importance of networking. Many of the members of the UNC Kickstart Venture Services team have worked with each other in different ventures. The relationships they formed years ago are still paying professional dividends. They have taught me the value of fostering and maintaining professional relationships. I am very grateful for my time spent in the Externship Program. I highly recommend the Externship program for any Carolina Law student who is looking to gain practical lawyering skills. 

—Brian R. Gamsey, Class of 2018
Kathryn J. Hesman "In the fall semester I externed with Chiesi Pharmaceuticals in Cary. The Chiesi legal team is small, so the attorneys handle a little bit of everything. While there, I worked on a variety of projects ranging from labor disputes and IP issues to M&A and contracts. Mike Gordon, Chiesi's General Counsel, invited me to participate in conference calls with outside counsel, with foreign legal counsel for the parent company in Italy, and with company executives. The exposure I gained was invaluable. My biggest takeaways were learning to have confidence in myself, and learning what clients like Chiesi look for when selecting outside counsel.

This spring, I externed with the Securities sector of Quintiles IMS Holdings, Inc. QuintilesIMS is a huge Fortune 500 company with a large in-house department. Since I have been there, I have had the opportunity to do rule checks on securities filings and to review their 10-K, earnings call materials, Proxy Statement for their Annual Meeting, and outside communications. I have learned a great deal about stocks, about materiality, and about what is expected from a reputable public company with a large number of shareholders. My site supervisor at QuintilesIMS, Stillman Hanson, is a former Carolina Law student who has been a great mentor to me. He has not only invested time to teach me about securities law, but has spent a number of hours preparing me for my future law firm practice. The combination of my experiences in the Externship Program at Carolina Law have prepared me well for my career as a corporate transactional lawyer."  

—Kathryn J. Hesman, '17
Brittnay Morgan "Participating in the externship program during both semesters of my 3L year has been one of the best decisions I have made in law school. My externships complemented each other well and I was able to gain an immense amount of insight into both criminal prosecution and judicial decision making. During my fall externship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was able to not only gain experience in federal court trying cases, but also learned what goes into trial preparation for both criminal and civil cases. During my spring externship with Judge Webster in the Middle District of North Carolina, I was able to observe Assistant United States Attorneys in federal court advocating in the same type of proceedings I had just been participating in the prior semester. Being able to gain insight into how Judge Webster made his decisions in those proceedings provided me with a great vantage point into which advocacy skills are most effective in federal court. This vantage point and ability to compare my experiences and performance at the U.S. Attorney’s Office with how Judge Webster made his decisions was an incomparable experience that I would not have been able to have without the externship program."

—Brittnay Morgan, '17

Supervisor's Corner

Dates to Remember

Important Summer Dates:

Externship Orientation:
Monday, May 15th

On-site start date:
Tuesday, May 16th

Midterm Due:
Friday, June 9th

Final Evaluation Due:
Friday, June 30th

Fall Semester Begins August 28th.  

The Fall placement period has ended.  Spring applications will go out in mid-October 2017.

Thank You to Our Guest Speakers

We want to thank the following site supervisors for taking the time to share their experience and expertise with our externship classes this spring.

Danielle Carman, Deputy Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Christin Coan, Senior Counsel at ChannelAdvisor

The Honorable Paul Newby, Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court

Sacha Rawls, Legal Counsel at ChannelAdvisor 


Supervisor Tips

The following article addressing the benefits of asking for and receiving constructive feedback, whether you are the student, the supervisor, or the faculty member!

Surprising Benefits to Negative Feedback

New Sites for 2017:

We are excited to welcome the following new externship partner sites into our program. Click here for more information about our sites. 

15B Criminal Justice Resource Office

Cooperative Solar

Environmental Defense Fund

Judge Hunter Murphy,
NC Court of Appeals

Judge Phil Berger,
NC Court of Appeals

NC State Bureau of Investigations Cold Case Files Office

UNC Ethics & Policy Office

Attorneys interested in joining our growing list of approved mentoring sites can learn more by scrolling to the bottom of this page: http://www.law.unc.edu/academics/externship/    

Alumni Spotlights

Just hired!

Congratulations are in order for the following extern alumni who have been offered permanent employment with their externship sites:

Brian Gwyn (UNC Law 2016) has accepted a permanent position with his externship site, the Legislative Analysis Division of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Alison Melvin (UNC Law 2106) is taking a position with UNC Office of Industry Contracting, where she spent her 1L summer.

Carmen Melvin (UNC Law 2015) is working with NCSU Office of Technology Transfer, where she externed during her 2L summer.

Kevin Westerman (UNC Law 2015) is currently Assistant Director of Compliance, working for his former Externship Supervisor, Paul Pogge, in the UNC Athletic Director's Office.

Welcome Back!

One of the many rewarding aspects of working with the Externship program is seeing our former students come full circle and return as site supervisors. Having experienced the “extern perspective,” these alumni often become some of our most engaged and dedicated supervisors.  Please join us in welcoming these generous alumni into our community of site supervisors:

Erin Edwards (UNC Law 2011) - Erin is currently a Contract Manager at UNC Industry Contracting, where she externed while in law school!

Please let us know if you have hired a recent extern, or if you are a former extern now working at your site, we appreciate extern updates!

Contact the Externship Program

Maria Savasta-Kennedy
Maria Savasta-Kennedy
Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Externship Program

Janine Zanin
Janine Zanin
Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Faculty Supervisor of the Externship Program

Rina Lyubkin

Rina Lyubkin
Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law

Melissa Wood-Saltzman
Melissa Wood-Saltzman
Business Services Coordinator

Additional news items may be submitted to Melissa Wood-Saltzman
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