Thursday, January 5, 2023

Spending My Summer as a Judicial Extern

Last summer, I had an amazing experience working as a judicial extern for The Honorable Richard L. Fruin Jr.. at the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Fruin’s courtroom is an independent calendar (“IC”) court that handles civil cases. IC courts will handle a case from start to finish - from the time a lawsuit is filed, through discovery and pre-trial motions, and throughout the trial and post-trial motions. 

The Los Angeles Superior Court Extern program lasted 8 weeks from the beginning of June to the end of July. During orientation I was able to meet fellow externs from different law schools outside of Los Angeles such as New York, Boston, and D.C. I externed for Judge Fruin along with 2 fellow students from Loyola Law School: Inbal and Stavroula. 

Every morning, I observed law and motion and case management conferences. Due to the pandemic, attorneys have the option to appear in court physically or via video-conference calling. After the case management conferences in the morning, the externs and I had a meeting with Judge Fruin to review the case management conferences, discuss future items that were on the court calendar, and receive extern assignments. Assignments included doing research about the different areas of California civil law and analyzing an attorney’s motion with the attached exhibits. The research assignments would help the judge be more informed about a case to help them decide a ruling. After our morning meeting, I would observe a trial if there was one scheduled. If not, I would work on the research assignments and get lunch with the other externs at the court. Sometimes during lunch, Judge Fruin would take us on trips to the museums in downtown or to visit the federal courthouse in L.A. Before the day ended, we would have another meeting with Judge Fruin to wrap up. 

Externing was a very educational experience. I got to see what “good” and “bad” lawyering was by observing how lawyers acted in the courtroom and by reading the briefs and motions they would file. I was able to learn what a judge’s expectations were for the attorneys in a case and got insight into the process that goes into deciding a fair and thorough ruling. Judge Fruin was very kind and open to answering all my questions. He shared his stories and past life experiences as an attorney and a judge.

I recommend everyone in law school to try to apply for a judicial externship. Here’s a little bit about the application process: most judges start accepting applications for summer externs starting in December. Most judges accept applications through a program or directly sent via email or mail to their chambers. An application consists of a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript. Even though externs for the court are unpaid, the experience you will gain from being in court and learning from a judge is invaluable. Hopefully most of you will try to obtain an externship and gain some insight about the experience from reading my blog. Externing at the court was one of the busiest, yet fun summers I have ever had!