Honing research skills with the N.C. Court of Appeals

Brittany Hart in the Class of December 2017 is the second to be featured in a series of profiles on Elon Law students whose summer internships offer them new insights and knowledge into the legal profession. 

If you want to serve as an appellate court judge, there may be no better experience in law school than taking part in Moot Court or Law Review. And outside of student activities? Working for an appellate judge also is a plus.

Just ask Brittany Hart.

The Montreal native accepted a position this summer with the North Carolina Court of Appeals where she is drafting opinions for the Hon. Donna S. Stroud. Hart wants to one day preside from the bench as an appellate court judge like Stroud, and her work is giving her a window into those responsibilities.

A graduate of Concordia University, Hart has been actively involved with Elon Law’s Moot Court Board with plans to begin her career practicing corporate law following her graduation in December. She is the latest student to be featured in a series of forthcoming summer employment profiles that showcase experiential learning opportunities for Elon Law students.

The following conversation has been lightly edited.

What inspired you to pursue a legal education and a career in law?
I want to have a career where I will get up every morning and be challenged to do something different and make a change in people’s lives.

Tell me about the legal assignments you are completing this summer for the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the way in which your work is helping others.
I am writing opinions for Judge Stroud. That involves everything from reading through trial transcripts, attorneys’ memoranda, and engaging in legal research.

What led you to this role and how does it complement your interest in the law?
This opportunity was presented to me through the North Carolina Internship Program summer employment pamphlet and enables me to improve my legal research and writing skills.

How did your previous residency-in-practice with The Rawlings Law Firm in Winston-Salem prepare you for your approach to this summer internship?
My residency enabled me to polish up my legal writing skills by providing me the opportunity to draft several demand letters, complaints, written discovery, and deposition outlines. 

What are you learning about yourself as a result of this experience that wouldn’t have been possible in a classroom setting?
I am definitely learning the ins and outs of appellate practice. My first-year Legal Method and Communication class prepared me to learn how to write an appellate brief, but there are definitely aspects that could only be learned through working in the Court of Appeals that you do not learn in the classroom.

Describe how the Office of Career & Student Development assisted you in securing summer employment.
I went to see Jennifer Mencarini with a few questions regarding the North Carolina Internship Program. She was able to provide me with some resources and polish my cover letter before sending in my application.

What would you want to share with other students about this internship and the skills you’ve developed because of it?
I would advise any law student who wants to work as a judicial intern for the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to engage in either Moot Court or Law Review in your second and third year of law school. Those programs provide you with valuable experience that you are not able to fully gain from sitting in a classroom, and employers look for those two law school activities when hiring summer interns.

I would also advise anyone who hopes to work as a judicial intern to expect long hours of sitting and reading and writing. Coming up with a polished opinion takes long hours and a lot of editing and re-editing. Do not be discouraged when the first draft you hand into your law clerk is covered in red pen. 


Visit the Office of Career & Student Development for more information on summer and full-time career opportunities.

Previous Summer Employment Profiles: Aarin Miles (Class of December 2017)