Public Interest Week: Mike Patrone
Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 06:46 AM EDT
This past summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend ten weeks working for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Florida. I had tremendous opportunities to gain hands-on experience and take on substantial responsibility even with only one year of law school experience. Further, fighting white collar crime in my hometown community, recently dubbed the nation's "mortgage fraud capital," was extremely rewarding.
The Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney's Office have awesome programs each summer that are very popular with HLS students. I chose to go to a smaller office (only seven Assistant U.S. Attorneys) and work in its white-collar division, where I worked on a wide variety of cases including tax evasion, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work on drug-trafficking, immigration, civil litigation, and human-trafficking cases. Working in a smaller office was very unique as I spent a tremendous amount of one-on-one time with a small group of attorneys and still had the opportunity to work on high-profile cases. Over the course of the summer, I even had three of my very own pre-indictment cases to manage and worked with the federal agencies investigating these cases, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Secret Service.
Another great thing about working at the U.S. Attorney's Office was the amount of time I spent in courtrooms throughout the summer. The Assistant U.S. Attorneys were great about bringing my fellow-interns and me to court as often as possible, and it was not uncommon for us to be in court four or five times a day. Further, in just ten weeks I had the opportunity to participate in three trials—which can take years in the private sector to do. In one particular trial I even had the opportunity to create jury exhibits for a money laundering trial to show how the money flowed through the scheme, in addition to numerous motions and research memorandums over the course of the internship.
Being a "Fed" for the summer was more valuable in terms of experience and job satisfaction than I can explain; it felt great waking up every morning to go (help) enforce justice and the law. Additionally, I was able to learn valuable trial strategy and the importance of prosecutorial ethics from my field supervisor Doug Molloy—Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney of the Fort Myers Division and legendary prosecutor in South Florida (see the original Miami Vice). Additionally, because of the great SPIF program at HLS, the school subsidizes expenses for students who spend their summer doing public interest work—including working at the Department of Justice or U.S. Attorney's Office.
For those who have not considered public interest work, it is very rewarding and I highly recommend the program. Whether you want to go into the public or private legal sector, a summer at the U.S. Attorney's Office can be outstanding training for your career.
This article originally appeared on HLS in Focus.