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Irina Luzanovskaya ’15

Exploring her career options through judicial internships

Irina Luzanovskaya ’15 enjoyed her summer judicial internship so much that she has asked to stay on for another semester. She is currently interning with Judge Joseph Dickson, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey; during the summer she interned with Judge Steven Mannion ’93, also a magistrate judge.

Though she is extremely grateful for this experience and described her summer interning as “the best summer of my life,” Luzanovskaya did not initially intend to intern and did not apply for a judicial internship. She explained that during her first year at Seton Hall she met one of Judge Mannion’s clerks, Damien Bevelle ’10, through a Seton Hall Law program that matches a student to an alumnus for a day-long “shadowing” experience. Bevelle introduced her to Judge Mannion, who explained some of the processes taking place in chambers and invited her to sit in on one of his telephone conferences. She recalls spending half the day with Bevelle, who was working on an opinion: “It was a motion to remand and one of the remand statutes was implicated. It was a class action, a very complex issue, and he actually asked me for my opinion.” During the second half of the day, Luzanovskaya observed a trial regarding a pro se attorney who was accused of committing fraud and intimidating witnesses.

Bevelle then reached out to Luzanovskaya and invited her to interview with Judge Mannion for a summer internship. “The way the clerk explained [the internship] to me at the interview,” she says, “it sounded like something I really wanted to do and I thought it would be a very valuable experience.”

As Luzanovskaya recalls, during the interview she was asked to rate her writing skills, making it clear to her that strong skills were essential to secure the internship and to perform well once on board. Fortunately, though her Legal Research and Writing (LRW) class, Luzanovskaya produced writing samples that she was able to present during the interview, along with high grades reflecting her strong performance. Her LRW experience continued to prove extremely valuable during her internship. She explains, “The LRW assignments also helped me become familiar with the litigation process – I learned how to write memos and a summary judgment motion.” She also had the opportunity to apply the rules she studied in her Civil Procedure class. But these classes are not the only ones that helped her: “Every time I work on something in my internship, I come across legal concepts that I have studied in law school.”

Luzanovskaya finds the work varied and fascinating. “So far I’ve supported several clerks by conducting research on particular issues they’ve needed to draft opinions. I had the opportunity to draft an entire opinion on my own, in which I researched multiple issues for that opinion. I also drafted case notes and case summaries for Judge Mannion.” In addition, she has also worked on pro hac vice applications – requests for lawyers who have not been admitted to practice in a certain jurisdiction, but have been allowed to participate in a particular case in that jurisdiction – and observed various conferences, oral arguments and some criminal proceedings.

Luzanovskaya appreciates how the judges and clerks keep her involved, asking her about her interests so they can try to give her assignments that she would find especially attractive, or to expand her experience with new challenges. She also appreciates the judges’ accessibility: “If I observe a trial or a phone conference, I can ask the judges questions afterward. It provides insight into how they make their decisions.”

Although Luzanovskaya is still considering her future career path, the internship validated her interest in pursuing a judicial clerkship once she graduates. “I think that all students should try to get an internship with a judge whether it is in state or federal court,” she says. “It’s an invaluable experience where you learn a lot and have an opportunity to improve your skills through practicing research and writing under the supervision of an attorney.”

- Contributed by Victoria Dorum '17