Prior to serving an externship at the New York County Supreme Court over the winter break, American studies major Megan Devlin ’12 (Pennington, N.J.) thought she would look for a paralegal position at a private firm after graduating from Lafayette.
After spending three days learning the ins and outs of the court system with host Daniel Rosen P’12, Devlin is now leaning more toward working in criminal court.
“The amount of actual court experience I would obtain as a paralegal in the criminal court is unparalleled by any other paralegal position a private firm could offer. Not only would the job be more exciting, it would also help me tremendously if I decided to go to law school,” Devlin says.
Rosen, court attorney to the administrative judge for New York County criminal matters, hosted two other Lafayette students during the externship: Alicia Manning ’13 (Newtown Square, Pa.) and Elizabeth Moroney ’14 (Califon, N.J.).
“I wanted to offer Lafayette students considering careers in law an opportunity to meet and observe those who practice criminal law, including trial and appellate attorneys, defense and prosecution, judges and court attorneys,” Rosen says.
The students were able to watch all stages of criminal prosecutions, from arraignment through indictment, guilty pleas, motion practice, hearings, jury selection and trial, sentencing, alternatives to incarceration programs and probation, and appeals.
The attorneys they met included new and career attorneys, as well as those who proceeded directly from college to law school and those who worked in between, often as paralegals. They also met a mix of institutional and private lawyers.
“Mr. Rosen would explain something—arraignment for example—and the three of us would take notes and ask questions, and then we would walk down the hall and watch an actual arraignment,” Devlin says. “It’s one thing to read or talk about the various stages of the criminal justice system and an entirely different experience to observe them first hand.”
Moroney, a biology major, says she was impressed by how comprehensive the experience was.
“I was surprised to see the measures that Mr. Rosen took to show us the ins and outs of the criminal court system. Although my experience only lasted three days, Mr. Rosen taught us so much about the procedures of the system and even the history of the court itself,” she says.
Although she is majoring in biology, Moroney is also taking government classes, which have sparked an interest in law. Combined with her passion for helping people, a career in law might be in her future.
“I have found through my experience that many [participants] in the Supreme Court dedicate their lives to helping people. I find this particularly admirable, and hope to combine my passion for community service with my interest in law and politics to create a successful career for myself one day,” Moroney says.
Rosen, who spent 14 years at the New York City Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau before joining the New York County Supreme Court, says that he likes to host college students because he believes the experience can help them better understand their career options.
“Law school is a great commitment of time and money, and I hope the students I host are able to more intelligently choose whether they should work after college, perhaps as a paralegal, and whether criminal or civil, and trial or appellate work, would suit them after law school. Hopefully the students will make better choices, and should they choose to attend law school, they can select courses and internships that will make them more attractive candidates in a competitive job market,” Rosen says.
Manning, a government major who is considering law school after Lafayette, learned a lot from her time at the court.
“My externship definitely helped with my post-Lafayette goals. It was nice to have the chance to talk to a lot of different people who were very helpful in discussing possible career opportunities,” she says. “This experience helped me to see the different jobs and opportunities that come along with having a law degree.”