"Public service is the core of being an attorney"

Onica Matsika, ’16, worked at the Seventh Circuit during the summer

What I did. I was a judicial intern for the Hon. Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

What I learned. The majority of my work was assisting Judge Williams and her clerks prepare for oral argument or issue an opinion. I read briefs, researched cases, and wrote memos on matters varying from criminal appeals to immigration decisions. I also helped coordinate pro-bono legal events in the Chicago community.

What was most interesting. I enjoyed viewing and participating in the behind-the-scenes operations that go on in every case. From corresponding with the clerk's office to talking through theories with the clerks, my work gave me a unique experience that strengthened my understanding of the litigation process.

What surprised me. Before I began my internship, I thought that I would be working in unfamiliar areas of law that are very difficult to understand. I was most surprised by the fact that the core of each case could always be simplified in a way a first-year law student could analyze. This made me realize that the law is not always as complex as it may seem.

What’s been most helpful. Public service is the core of being an attorney. Each case I worked on involved a real person with a real problem who was looking to the legal system for a just answer. It's easy to forget about the impact we'll have on clients while sitting in a classroom. My judicial internship showed me that while attorneys may wear different hats, they're all on the same mission.