PHOENIX (July 19, 2023) – One day she’s watching a high-profile murder trial, the next she’s learning the intricate details of a personal property dispute over dogs.
For Chace Montano, the most rewarding aspect of her summer externship is observing the many cases at Superior Court. Montano, a third-year law student at the University of Massachusetts School of Law, is working for Commissioner Nicole Hartley. She is one of 50 law students selected to take part in Superior Court’s Summer Judicial Externship Program.
“This externship sounded like the best fit for me because I have always known I wanted to work as a litigator after law school. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my internship last year was entirely virtual. Being inside a courtroom, in person, was incredibly important for me to experience before I begin working,” Montano said.
The primary purpose of the program is to provide each extern with an understanding of Court operations and expose them to the courtroom. Externs can apply to serve their externships in the Civil, Criminal, Family, Juvenile, Tax or Probate Departments. Also, they are paired with one or more judicial officers. The externship is an unpaid position that offers training like what would be given in an educational environment.
“No words could adequately express my gratitude toward Commissioner Hartley for the unforgettable summer she put together for me. She is everything I want to be as an attorney someday. Every extra moment she had was used to better my legal career, and I hope to repay that kindness someday to students like myself,” Montano said.
Formal programming for the externship begins in June and runs through July. Each week, externs learn about a different court department through an introductory presentation followed by courtroom observation and occasional follow-up Q&A sessions with judicial officers. They also take field trips, which includes touring other courthouses and other Maricopa County facilities.
Ryan Rosenblatt, a second-year student at Michigan State University Law School serving as an extern to Judge Kevin Wein, feels the exposure to different types of cases, and the interaction between judges and lawyers have expanded his understanding of the law.
“Prior to this externship, I was highly interested in doing civil litigation. However, after being in the Superior Court program all summer I have had the opportunity to see many different aspects of the law. Through this experience, I have opened my mind to include criminal law and working as a prosecutor,” Rosenblatt said.
As part of the program, externs work with judicial officers on various written research projects. The judicial officers review their work and provide feedback.
“I would like to thank Judge Kevin Wein for taking me under his wing and teaching me so much about the court system and about myself. Judge Wein pushed me to improve my legal writing and to be a better advocate one day for my own clients,” Rosenblatt said.
Throughout the years, the Judicial Externship Program has received positive feedback from participants. By learning the idiosyncrasies of the courtroom and having the opportunity to network with judicial officers and other externs, the program has helped shape the careers for many lawyers.
Alexandra Wilson, a second-year student at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, recommends the externship program to anyone who is interested.
“It’s a unique learning experience that you will not find anywhere else. This program encourages you to explore any area of interest you may have and introduces you to the many moving parts of our legal system,” Wilson said. “Seeing the law in action really puts what we learn in the classroom into perspective. I would like to thank Commissioner Vanessa Smith for organizing this program and putting an unbelievable amount of effort into ensuring that this was an educational and fulfilling experience for all the externs. I would also like to thank Judge James Knapp for the many learning experiences he provided me. Sitting in on his trials and writing memos for him allowed me to expand and apply my legal knowledge.”
To learn more about the Judicial Externship Program, please visit: https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/human-resources/judicial-externship/
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The Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County is comprised of Superior Court, Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation, which includes juvenile detention. The Judicial Branch in Maricopa County is the fourth largest trial court system in the nation and, along with its 3,000 employees, is dedicated to providing a safe, fair and impartial forum for resolving disputes, enhancing access to services, and providing innovative, evidence-based practices that improve the safety of the community and ensure the public’s trust and confidence in the Judicial Branch. For more information, visit superiorcourt.maricopa.gov.