Elon Law students making an impact
Elon Law student placements in the offices of a city attorney, public defender, judge, law firm and social justice nonprofit are featured in the eighth and final weekly spotlight on Elon Law student summer employment experiences.
Britt Burch, Elon Law Class of 2016, benefitted from experiences in both the Attorney’s Office of the City of Greensboro, NC and in international business law through study abroad that included engagement with several global corporations.
"During summer 2015, I traveled to England and Ireland to study International Business,” Burch said. “As part of the trip I was able to visit several successful companies such as Dell, Regeneron, Siemens and Amec Foster Wheeler. The purpose of the trip was to explore not only business strategies that lead to financial success, but also strategies that maintain employee retention and job satisfaction. We focused on how to solidify a customer base, implement mergers and acquisitions and protect intellectual property. Additionally, we discussed the importance of flexible work schedules and liberal employment practices in order to prevent employees from joining competing companies. My interest in employment law and compliance led me to compare the employment directives established by the European Union to U.S. employment law.”
Britt served in the City of Greensboro Attorney’s Office through an Elon Law externship. She worked with the Human Resources Department and practiced employment law and compliance. She represented the City of Greensboro in hearings before the state’s Employment Security Commission and submitted an appellate brief on behalf of the City. She was able to conduct internal investigations in response to filed U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges and other employee grievances. Lastly, she participated in an Americans with Disabilities Act audit of the City’s employment procedures, which was used to help Greensboro secure U.S. Housing and Urban Development funding.
"This summer experience solidified my decision to practice employment law and compliance after graduation,” Burch said. “This opportunity allowed me to supplement the knowledge I received in the employment law course with valuable, practical experience.”
Burch is a Leadership Fellow at Elon Law and a 2016 joint JD/MBA candidate.
“Legal writing was a major portion of my summer externship,” Burch said. “The writing techniques learned in the LMC course definitely helped me draft employee agreements, advisory memos, and legal briefs.”
Justin Byrd, Elon Law Class of 2016, was a legal intern at The Whitley Law Firm in Kinston, North Carolina.
Bryd gained practical experience through legal work across three different counties. He gathered notes for pretrial, assisted with a Social Security hearing, gathered information on possible medical malpractice cases and worked on depositions and motions.
At The Whitley Law Firm, Byrd reported to Elon alumna Whitney J. Butcher, a 2012 graduate of Elon Law and a 2009 graduate of Elon University, whose work focuses within the firm’s dangerous drug and defective medical device practice area, as well as general personal injury and auto accident cases.
At Elon Law, Byrd as a member of the student leadership of the law school’s Intellectual Property Law Society.
Nate Cook, Elon Law Class of 2017, was a summer extern at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) in Durham and Winston-Salem, NC.
At SCSJ, Cook worked in the voting rights division assisting a legal team leading the lawsuit, League of Women Voters of North Carolina, et al. v. North Carolina, et al. This was a prominent and highly publicized federal voting rights lawsuit that went to trial in July 2015.
“My externship this summer was the most rewarding work I have ever done, both professionally and personally,” Cook said. “I was part of an expansive legal team that sued the state of North Carolina based on the General Assembly's 2013 voting law called the Voter Information Verification Act, more commonly known as HB-589. This lawsuit was consolidated from three separate lawsuits, and additional parties joined to the suit as plaintiff-intervenors. This meant that there were over 30 different attorneys from across the U.S. working for the various plaintiffs groups. This required significant legal strategy and compromise among the plaintiffs' attorneys. This case gave me a firsthand look at what is required of attorneys who work in large-scale civil litigation. The exposure I gained spending three weeks in federal court was invaluable in and of itself. Furthermore, I made lasting connections with numerous attorneys, and I learned many valuable skills throughout my summer.”
At Elon Law, Cook is a Leadership Fellow, a second-year student representative in the Student Bar Association and chairman of the citywide Greensboro College Commission. He has an undergraduate degree in political science from Appalachian State University.
“I am very passionate about protecting the fundamental right to vote,” Cook said. “Voting, to me, enables citizens to play a vibrant role in our representative democracy. I was proud to be able to fight against the state's efforts to disenfranchise North Carolina voters.”
While at SCSJ, Cook conducted legal research, met with clients, engaged in trial scheduling conferences, assisted in the preparation of advocacy materials, assisted with witness depositions, prepared trial notebooks and other resources, and coordinated with other plaintiffs' legal teams, among other things. During the three-week trial, he assisted attorneys with various research, management of testifying witnesses, note-taking, and other matters as needed. He engaged in civil rights and constitutional law, with a specific focus on voting rights and election law.
“My Civil Procedure course with Professor Dunham was very helpful for my summer externship,” Cook said. “Furthermore, my experience with the Leadership Fellows was extremely helpful.”
Meghan Smith, Elon Law Class of 2017, was a judicial intern for Judge Stephen Messick, North Carolina District 15A - Alamance County in Graham, North Carolina.
"This experience has given me valuable insight into what goes into a judge's decision," Smith said. "Also, it has allowed me the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a judge everyday and discuss important legal issues.”
Smith had the opportunity to attend both criminal and civil proceedings, to conduct research to give to Judge Messick prior to the trial date on issues that were of first impression, and to conduct research during deliberations to make sure all of elements of the crime in question were met. One of the biggest issues Smith spent her time researching was whether or not the machines used in "Internet Sweepstakes" business violate a North Carolina statute which explains prohibited electronic machines and gambling devices.
"Elon Law’s legal research and communication courses prepared me with the skills necessary to conduct research," Smith explained.
At Elon Law, Smith is the vice president of the Intellectual Property Society, professional chair of the Women's Law Society and secretary of the Elon Law Democrats.
Angelique Ryan, Elon Law Class of 2016, was a legal intern this summer at the Guilford County Public Defender's Office in Greensboro, N.C. She is pictured with Public Defender Fred Lind, left, and fellow Public Defender interns, including Elon Law students Holly Ford, third from right, and Merima Mustafic and Jackson Barnes, fourth and fifth from left respectively.
"This internship provided me the opportunity to learn from many extremely talented trial lawyers," Ryan said. "Having practical experience ... has helped strengthen the skills I've learned in the in the classroom and prepared me for the real world."
While interning at the Public Defender's Office, Ryan was able to work with indigent criminal defendants and make appearances in court on their behalf under the North Carolina Practice Certificate for bond motions, plea arrangements, and probation violations. She helped with trial preparations, legal research, client intake, jail visits, investigative work, and creating legal documents. She also worked with juveniles in delinquency proceedings and juvenile drug treatment court.
"Everything that I learned from Professor Rich in my criminal procedure class was extremely helpful with this internship," Ryan explained.
At Elon Law, Ryan is president of Elon Law Democrats, member of the Innocence Project, and administrative assistant at the Elon Law Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic.