Summer Intern Diaries-Working at Houlon Berman: “The Dungeon”

Hello everyone!  I am glad to report that I am well into my groove here at Houlon Berman!  Despite a few hiccups (I ripped my shirt in the middle of the day and avoided anyone knowing about it… until now I guess), I’ve already mastered a lot of the essentials when it comes to my internship.  For instance, I know exactly what time to leave home to arrive at the office on time and I now know that two cups of coffee and an afternoon Coke Zero give me the perfect balance of caffeine to keep me alert, but not hyper. I’ve also gotten much more comfortable with the daily tasks and routines of Houlon Berman and my job as an intern here.

Learning from the Associates

One of my favorite parts of the internship so far has been working with and assisting Houlon Berman’s quite capable associate attorneys.  I have learned more about what is required to practice law and how it is done on a day-to-day business from the Associates than from anyone else. They have given me interesting assignments of a wide ranging nature from legal research, to organizing discovery files, making phone calls, tracking down and speaking to witnesses to general work tasks like finding a particular court clerk to get an answer to a specific question, etc.  All of these tasks have shown me how much hard and detailed work is required to practice law and do a good job.   Being around some of the younger attorneys in the office has also given me access to great advice and they have already taught me invaluable lessons.  Some of these lessons include what to order at lunch that gives me the smallest risk of spilling and messing up my shirt and tie, to giving me much needed advice on looming law school applications, and how to best handle the ups and downs of being an attorney.  It really has been great learning from such hard-working, talented young attorneys and all-around nice people!

Field Trips

Another part of my job description as an intern at Houlon Berman is what I like to call regular field trips.  Even though these trips are very different from my elementary school trips to the zoo, I still like to think of my out of the office adventures as field trips.  Going to court as an observer has been really valuable to me.  It has been enlightening to see how well the attorneys at Houlon Berman perform under pressure, how they deal with judges, other attorneys, police officers, witnesses, courtroom clerks, etc   This experience has provided me with countless examples of courtroom style, decorum and etiquette for me to aspire to and emulate.  It has also shown me court is very different than the TV version.  Going to court is not just one big event and then the case is over.  It is usually a long, drawn out process which often includes bond reviews, preliminary hearings, status/scheduling conferences, disposition hearings, motions hearings and that’s all before a case even goes to trial.  All in all, the TV version of court only shows a small aspect of what goes on in litigation and fails to highlight many other parts of going to court, which are essential in obtaining a desirable outcome for a client.

The Dungeon

Another “fun” trip for me is going to a place a lot of the attorneys at Houlon Berman call “the dungeon.”  In addition to my other intern responsibilities, I have helped move documents and boxes around.  (Around here, some of the older lawyers still have trouble with digital storage of documents.)  On one trip I was supposed to move some pretty heavy boxes to “the dungeon” for storage.  In addition to a good arm workout, I have to admit the trip provided me with a little excitement and scare.  I really felt like I was in a scene from Game of Thrones in the dungeon where Tyrion is being held and, much like a captive, I am an intern!  Also, I’m pretty sure I saw the main character from the movie Ratatouille down in “the dungeon.”

In summary, the lesson I have learned from the events of this blog is to take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new this summer.  Whether it is helping an associate attorney with legal research, going to court or surviving a trip to “the dungeon,” there is always something to take out of the experience.

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