I’m Going to Court?
“Take a look at the calendar. If anything looks interesting, just ask if it is okay to tag along. Most attorneys will be more than happy to let you join.”
One of the unique factors about my internship was that I was able to access almost all of the firm’s resources, including the internal calendar (which displayed everyone’s schedule), and the firm’s open and closed cases. And so, I could look at who was going where at what time, look up the according cases in the server, and ask if I could shadow them to their schedules.
Throughout my internship, I was able to witness various court hearings, bankruptcy filings, client consultation meetings, real estate closings, and a proffer session. As I have never been to any of these meetings in my life, these experiences were truly eye-opening.
Courthouses. The courthouses were livelier than I had imagined. Especially for the municipal cases, most of the lawyers in the room joyfully greeted each other before the hearings, and even the prosecutor and officers seemed to recognize most lawyers as most of them have known each other for a few years. Until this summer, the idea of a court house was a bit intimidating for me. It was a place where people were ultimately announced guilty or innocent. However, I realized that trials were not as common (as cases are usually settled), and that the majority of the legal professionals seem to enjoy what they do, contrary to common belief.
Real estate closings. Although I have been aware of the concept of selling and purchasing real properties, it was exciting to witness it unfold before my eyes. When there were mortgages involved, the closings usually took longer. Sometimes conflicts would occur right before the closing, and since my desk was near the real estate department, I was able take part in the process. It was especially interesting to participate in real estate closings, because I was taking a pre-license course during the weekends to qualify as a real estate agent while interning during the weekdays. When the real estate manager found out that I was taking real estate classes, he included me in most of the email chains for the real estate department. And so, not only was I able to witness the closing, but I was also able to take part in the process from the beginning.
Client meetings. When there were client meetings between non-Korean attorneys and non-English speaking clients, I was asked to aid their communication by translating. Although I am bilingual, translating was tough at times. Not only did I have to translate the ongoing conversation to both parties as accurately as possible under the time pressure, I could not forget about providing high quality customer service. That is, one of the many things I have learned in both this internship and in school was the importance of presentation. Especially in sensitive meetings like estate planning, I had to make sure I was using the best words in the best context possible.