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A summer as a judicial intern in Judge Bloom’s chambers

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Bloom Summer Interns 2021

Every summer, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida welcomes a sizable group of summer interns from law schools across the country. In years past, a summer intern’s experiences would vary depending on the particular judge’s chambers in which they worked. The COVID-19 pandemic required an innovative approach, converting the traditionally in-person experience to an entirely virtual one for the summer of 2020, and a hybrid program for the summer of 2021. The adjustment has had some positive effects — making the program more uniform, and allowing interns from outside the district to participate. This year, over 200 interns, mostly rising second-year law students, took part. Interns were not only here in the Southern District of Florida, but also in the Southern District of Ohio, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Southern District of Texas, and the Southern District of New York. The interns began the program with an Internship Orientation session, consisting of an overview of the federal court system and the Southern District of Florida, a crash course in ethics, introductions to the many components of the court family, including the Clerk’s Office, human resources, computer services, the 11th Circuit Library, and the United States Marshal’s Office, and a session on mental health and wellness in the legal profession. The interns then spent their summer completing assignments for their judges and law clerks, observing proceedings in both state and federal courts, including the Court Assisted Re-Entry program (CARE Court), attending and participating in discussions with prominent lawyers and judges, career development and networking workshops, and observing a naturalization ceremony. The following article describes some of the highlights from this past summer.

“Learn, learn, and then learn some more.” This was the advice imparted to us by Judge Beth Bloom on the first day of our internship. After navigating the first year of law school online during a worldwide pandemic, we were eager to begin what would be, for many of us, our initial experience in the federal judicial system. Eight weeks later, with our internship coming to a close, it is safe to say that our experience embodied Judge Bloom’s advice in every way.

Engaging in a hybrid internship meant splitting our time between in-person and remote work. We had the opportunity to meet many renowned attorneys, judges, and other distinguished professionals via Zoom. We also attended virtual hearings in both state and federal courts. We were able to attend Judge Bloom’s hearings in-person and immerse ourselves in the courtroom’s grandeur. We had the privilege to work with, and learn from, Judge Bloom’s law clerks, courtroom deputy, court security officer, and court reporter — all of whom answered our questions and pushed our knowledge of the judicial system to new heights. This article includes some of the lessons we learned during our internship with Judge Bloom.

Throughout the summer, we had the privilege of leading and participating in the “Learning from the Legends” event series, interacting with seven lawyers considered to be some of the brightest, boldest, and most respected legal minds in the United States. Apart from representing their unshakeable commitment to the legal field, each speaker provided us with unique “words of wisdom.” Markenzy Lapointe kicked off the series on an inspirational and patriotic note, reminding us that despite its imperfections, “America is still the hope of the world.” Lapointe left us with a valuable reminder that no achievement is impossible with the right work ethic and a positive mindset. Like Lapointe, our next speaker Stephen Zack personified the “American Dream,” explaining that anyone can achieve their goals in this nation with hard work and determination.

We also heard from Roy Black, Eugene Stearns, and Howard Srebnick, all formidable, world-class litigators. Each speaker emphasized the importance of passion and persuasion in the legal profession. “I am a salesman,” Black explained, “I do not sell Ginsu knives, and I do not sell large appliances at Sears. But I sell ideas, facts, clients, jury instructions, legal principles, [and] witnesses.” Stearns underscored the importance of finding a legal niche that allows practicing client advocacy in a non-scripted manner. Further, Stearns emphasized that trial advocacy, in its simplest form, is a service, and what you say is just as important as how you say it. Srebnick, recalled an opportunity he had to represent a client as a second-year law student. His story inspired us to seize every opportunity, including those that manifest before our official admission to the Bar.

Ellen Freidin and HT Smith, both trailblazers in promoting diversity and representation in the legal field, also took the time to speak with us. From helping to end gerrymandering in Florida to opening doors for minorities in the legal field, Freidin and Smith taught us the importance of using our legal education to enact change in our communities. We hope to apply the advice that we received and use it to emulate the legal careers of these seven individuals.

Additionally, we led and participated in the “Conversations with the Court” event series, which featured notable judicial figures in Florida’s legal community. Members of the judiciary spoke with us candidly, sharing difficult moments when they faced rejection or even discrimination. Judge Raag Singhal applied to the bench numerous times before his appointment, never allowing a rejection to thwart his desire to become a federal judge. Judge Laurel Isicoff, the first female bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of Florida and the first female chief bankruptcy judge of the Southern District of Florida, shed light on the difficulties she faced as a woman practicing law in the 1980s. Both judges urged us to take advantage of every opportunity that the ever-evolving practice of law provides.

While their paths to the bench were unique, each of the judges we spoke with — Robin Rosenberg, Laurel Isicoff, Bruce Reinhart, Roy Altman, Raag Singhal, Kathleen Williams, Cecilia Altonaga, Mimi Tsankov, Rodolfo Ruiz, Marcia Cooke, Robin Rosenbaum, and Michael Newman — gave credit to their colleagues and mentors for their achievements. Not only does their desire to credit others demonstrate unwavering humility, it also underscores the importance of building relationships with one another. It became apparent that law is a community, and although competition is innate to the practice, so too is camaraderie. Each of us walked away with a newfound respect for the bench and a heightened appreciation for one another.

We also had the opportunity to sharpen our legal research and writing skills by working one-on-one with Judge Bloom’s law clerks to analyze specific motions on her docket. We then presented oral arguments in mock proceedings before the judge. The law clerks taught us to synthesize our ideas more concisely, articulating the importance of treating criticism as a learning experience. Additionally, the law clerks emphasized quality over quantity in our legal analysis, reminding us that brevity is a skill that takes time to master. Each member of Judge Bloom’s chambers served as an excellent resource for identifying the pertinent issues within our motions and addressing them in a clear and logical manner that meets the standards required in judicial filings. While the oral argument component was nerve-racking, we grew more confident remembering Judge Bloom’s advice to (1) be a master of your facts; (2) know your procedural posture well; and (3) be prepared for any and all questions.

The day-to-day moments in Judge Bloom’s chambers were some of the most memorable. Conversations over coffee and cookies, lunches in the conference room, and Judge Bloom’s daily “Hi, I’m just checking in…” always put a smile on our faces. Judge Bloom and her law clerks were always eager to answer any of our questions, taking time out of their busy days to discuss hearings, legal issues, and law school in general.

We are beyond grateful to the judge and her team for giving us an incredible summer where we “learned, learned, and learned some more.” These experiences – Conversations with the Court, Learning from the Legends, hearings, CARE Court, oral arguments, and memoranda writing – have been invaluable learning opportunities. As a result of our summer internship in Judge Bloom’s chambers, we were provided with lessons that will remain with us throughout our legal careers. We leave you with a few of our favorite “words of wisdom” from this experience:

• Take every opportunity to learn from the best, especially when offered guidance with no strings attached.

• Accept criticism as constructive – something that will help you grow and improve for the future – rather than destructive to your self-confidence.

• Begin networking and making connections now. In doing so, always be respectful, and in turn, you will be respected.

• Read as much as you can; it will show you how others think, write, and view the world.

• The best advocates always prepare.

• When you make it to the top of the ladder of success, do not pull it up behind you, but reach your hand back to help those still climbing.

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