A Day in the Life Of: A Legal Intern’s Story

Interested in becoming an AHLC Legal Intern? We accept interns year-round. Our Summer 2021 Internship has been filled. Watch this space for Fall 2021 application information. Learn more and apply here!

Emily Rector interned for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center in the Fall of 2017 during an externship semester while a third year law student at Cornell Law School.

 

AHLC: What does a typical day look like?

While it is difficult to describe a typical day, most days involve a substantial amount of research and writing. I perform legal research on various substantive and procedural issues for both pending and potential cases, with a primary focus on the Establishment Clause. Often, I am able to incorporate my research into a brief or a complaint letter and have assisted in developing litigation strategy.

Most days also include assignments relating to factual development. This could range from interviewing clients to drafting discovery documents or preparing exhibits. Because a majority of our cases are fact-intensive, my time at the AHLC has helped me develop effective interviewing skills.

In addition to day-to-day litigation assignments, I have had the opportunity to attend the AHA’s donor retreat and even a rally at the Supreme Court! In short, although each day is different, my time at the AHLC has provided me with invaluable litigation experience and the opportunity to learn about the AHA, generally.

AHLC: Why did you apply to be an intern with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center?

I applied to the AHLC because I wanted to use the skills I have learned in law school to promote causes I care about, namely the separation of church and state. Moreover, I wanted to gain public interest experience and work with non-profit attorneys. I was also drawn to the AHLC because I knew I would have the opportunity to work directly with clients and assist with factual development.

 

AHLC:How is the work environment at AHLC?

Incredible! I have been able to work with two amazing attorneys who have provided extensive feedback on my work. Of course, the rest of the AHA staff have also been great to work with. The best part of interning at the AHA is working together with like-minded individuals who are passionate about the same causes and share similar goals.

AHLC: What advice do you have for future legal interns here at AHLC?

I would recommend, if possible, taking courses in Constitutional Law, First Amendment, and Federal Courts; though the courses are certainly not required for the internship, I found them to be helpful. Otherwise, be open to taking on a wide range of assignments to get the most out of the internship. If you are passionate about protecting the constitutional mandate requiring the separation of church and state and are interested in litigation, I am certain you will enjoy your time at the AHLC.

Apply to be an AHLC Legal Intern!

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center accepts interns year-round. Our Summer 2021 Internship has been filled. Watch this space for Fall 2021 application information.

The AHA’s legal arm, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, handles constitutional litigation and church-state separation cases, with clients ranging from parents and students to federal inmates. The legal intern is primarily responsible for researching and writing legal memoranda and assisting in litigation under the supervision of the legal center’s attorneys. The intern may also be assigned the task of investigating new complaints, maintaining case files and submitting public records requests.

 

Qualifications: Applicants must be organized, self-motivated, reliable, and demonstrate an understanding of humanism and interest in progressive issues. Interns are expected to work at the American Humanist Association National Office, located at 1821 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, DC 20036, though the option to work remotely can be considered.

 

Preference is given to second- and third-year law students who have completed course work in legal research and writing. This internship will be a 10-week, full-time position with hourly pay at DC minimum wage. Start and end dates are negotiable.

 

To Apply: Send a cover letter with your area(s) of interest and availability, current resume, at least two professional references, and 2-3 recent writing samples to legalintern@americanhumanist.org.