Rachel McDonald

Law Career Services for students and alumni.

JD Student Spotlight: Rachel McDonald

Rachel McDonald is a 2L Seton Hall Law student. During this past summer, she was a legal intern at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Law in Newark, New Jersey. Next summer, Rachel will be a summer associate at Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Did you enjoy working at the AG’s office?
Working at the AG’s office was a great experience. Being surrounded by so many attorneys from diverse backgrounds doing different kinds of work for New Jersey is a great introduction to the various areas of a legal career.

What is different about working at the AG’s office ?
An internship at the AG’s office, particularly in the summer, is very much treated like a program. In addition to being assigned to a section and getting hands-on work experience, the program includes an intern-led mock trial, training events hosted by Deputy Attorney Generals covering topics such as E-discovery in social media and legal writing workshops, as well as presentations from each section in the office where they share how their work impacts New Jersey.

Did you work on any interesting projects over the summer?
The intern supervisors at the AG’s office are very supportive and prioritize making the experience valuable. My section made it clear that they would not assign us busy work and made sure to include me in the assignments they were currently working on. A majority of my work included researching questions regarding the way professional boards can operate and drafting corresponding memoranda. Also, my supervisors were aware that I was interested in transactional work, so I was assigned drafting assignments whenever they came up, such as consent orders for licensees to voluntarily give up their certifications.

Did you have the opportunity to shadow an attorney at a deposition, court appearance, or trial? If so, please elaborate on your experiences.
I worked in the Consumer Affairs Counseling section of the Division of Law. This section is the only one in the Division of Law that does not deal with litigation, but rather counsels professional boards of NJ. I attended board meetings and hearings in which my section’s attorneys counseled the medical and nursing boards on the proper ways to reprimand licensees. However, all interns were invited to reach out to the other sections in the office if they were interested in different work and wanted to shadow any trials those sections were working on.

Did working at the AG’s office help you make decisions about what you wanted to do with your legal career?
I have always known that I wanted to do transactional work for corporate law, but working at the AG’s office has been a great experience in developing my legal research and writing skills, as well as broadening my understanding of the pressing legal matters in NJ. Although the work I did this summer will likely be different than what I do post-graduation, the skills and knowledge I have acquired from this experience are invaluable.

How was your experience in applying for big law jobs during your 1L summer? Any tips for the current 1L class for next year?
Apply early! Have your resume, cover letters, and working list of where you want to apply ready to go while waiting to get spring final grades back. Start applying to places as soon as you can, as several big firms in both New Jersey and New York City fill many of their spots before Fall Recruitment begins and/or the summer ends.

Reach out to people who have had the clerk/intern positions you want. You can meet attorneys at school-hosted networking events, and you can ask OCS which current students were summer associates at the places you are interested in. I spoke with more than three people who had worked at both my 1L summer internship and my 2L summer job. Talking to these people helped me better understand what the job would be like, and I think this helped me stand out in the interviews because I was very informed about the employer and the program and I demonstrated the initiative I took in researching the job and how interested I was in working there.

In interviews, leverage the skills component of Lawyering, such as negotiations and counseling a client. During my 2L summer interviews, I also highlighted the experience I had from my other 1L internship as corporate in-house counsel. Since I applied for transactional work at law firms, I emphasized the related work I was already doing, such as drafting contracts and lease agreements. Firms don’t expect students to be experienced enough to come in and know everything and just start working, but it definitely helps if you can showcase you have experience and a working knowledge of some of the matters you could be assigned.

What are your plans for 2L year?
I am excited to start taking electives and choosing classes that interest me and relate to transactional and corporate law. I am also looking forward to getting more involved in the organizations at school, as I am a board member for a few clubs and would like to be a mentor and resource to new students.