TJSL’s Externship Program Provides Great Opportunities
If you ask Stuart Mellman 2L how he spent his summer, he’ll tell you he learned a lot about what it’s like to be a lawyer – even working on a case that involved a major entertainment business figure. (We wish we could tell you her name. Unfortunately, we can’t. But she’s huge!)
Mellman knows how valuable a summer internship can be after the first year of law school—not to mention how challenging it can be as well. He interned with Brian D. Alexander of Alexander & Associates during the summer of 2012 and handled a wide-range of legal issues. It was a full-time, paid internship, where he did legal work and kept track of his billable hours – as lawyers do in private practice.
“I was researching and writing memos everyday to advise the lawyers how to proceed,” Mellman says. “I was treated as though I was an associate.”
Indeed, he did a lot of the type of work associates do. “I mainly worked on estate planning & probate, including an estate in excess of five million dollars,” he said. He also worked on contracts, civil litigation, motions to dismiss, complaints, answers, and made trips to the courthouse to file pleadings.
“It was challenging,” Mellman says, “because I was researching a lot of legal topics not covered in the 1L year.”
“This past summer I was incredibly fortunate to have Stuart as an intern. He had exceptional research and writing capabilities,” said Brian Alexander, the Managing Partner of Alexander & Associates. “More importantly, I could delegate projects and after reviewing a few examples from prior matters that were substantially similar to the instant project, the intern would produce quality work product with minimal revisions, saving me time and more importantly my clients money on fees.”
You know you’re in the real world of lawyering when a case file crosses your desk with the name of an iconic Grammy Award-winning performer on the label. Confidentiality doesn’t allow us to name the artist, but she is as big as they come in music biz, and the issue was alleged trademark infringement on a line of clothing. Mellman researched the status of the case to make a recommendation on how the case should proceed. Heady stuff. He found that by the time the firm inherited the case, the opportunity to respond had come and gone.
“It was really valuable because it was my first trademark experience,” Mellman said.
Mellman also worked on a case involving a national Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS) show that involved licensing of T-shirt logos. He also wrote a brief concerning a research and development tax credit for a large pharmaceutical company that potentially saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mellman graduated from the University of Central Florida and majored in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. He is still deciding whether he wants to eventually practice in contract, trademark, intellectual property or estate law. He certainly got a taste of all of them this summer.
“It was tremendously valuable,” Mellman says of his internship experience at Alexander & Associates. “It gave me insight into how tremendously valuable a law degree is.”
The TJSL Externship Program that Mellman is part of is ranked fifth in the nation for 2012 based on the ratio of externships the school has placed and the number of full-time students. The program offers great opportunities for hands-on legal experience and academic credit at the same time.
Brian Alexander is completely sold on the idea of law students doing internships to prepare for their post-law school careers.
“Law school, while incredibly important to learn the research, writing and advocacy skills and more importantly, develop the dedication and tools for the long hours associated with the practice of law, does not necessarily prepare you for the actual practice of law,” says Alexander. “In the past, attorneys would go through an apprenticeship program before becoming licensed similar to our physicians and their residencies. It is my position that this ought to be reinstated as a prerequisite to becoming a licensed attorney. Until that time, interning at a law office or government agency prepares the law student for the real world practice of law.”
Mellman will continue his internship at the firm in the spring on a part-time basis.