Prospective students in the field of political science get hands-on experience with an internship that takes them into the courtroom.
Pierce College Associate Professor Denise Robb has been helping students interested in law fields, and continues to advise students on what courses to take to transfer.
“I wanted to start a judicial internship program,” Robb said. “I contacted Judge [Huey P. ] Cotton and said if we can work together, and he said sure. We’ve been getting really great compliments of our students.”
Robb worked as a legal assistant for 15 years before becoming an associate professor. She said students can learn more from an internship experience.
“You get to know the judges pretty well, and you get an idea if you really want to be a lawyer, and if this is for you,” Robb said.
According to Robb, a Pierce student was accepted to Georgetown Law School and received an A minus average in their first semester.
“These are very successful students,” Robb said, “Students who are going to have big careers.”
The internship program is in the Van Nuys Courthouse and provides three CSU transferable units.
“Law school doesn’t really prepare you to be a lawyer,” Robb said. “It does teach you what the laws are and it gets you ready to take the LSAT [Law School Admission Test].”
According to Robb, students attend trials, follow cases, take notes and meet with different judges and other interns every week.
Cotton, of the Los Angeles Superior Court Northwest District in Van Nuys, is a mentor for high school and college students interested in pursuing legal careers.
“Every intern has been exceptional and a few have been outstanding,” Cotton said. “They’ve gone on to either CAL State or UCLA. The student that has gone to UCLA decided to major in political science and law, and he is now in his first year in Georgetown University Law School.
“He’s done such outstanding work that it speaks volumes on how this internship can energize your entire legal career, if you choose to pursue it. This internship is a gateway to exciting law school experience,” Cotton said.
Political science major Drew Gipson was in the internship program in fall 2016, and hopes to transfer to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Cal. State University, Northridge or University of Southern California (USC).
“The judicial program was a great experience,” Gipson said in an email. “It provided me with one-on-one access to state superior court judges, whom would discuss with me and the various civil and criminal trials I observed. Experiencing jury selection and observing the defense, plaintiff, and prosecution counsel was highly educational.”
Gipson said students also have the opportunity to speak with the litigators and observe the trial once it concludes. He had the opportunity to work with Cotton, Dohi, Kellogg, Brandelino, Convey, and Lippitt.
“The entire experience helped further shape my outlook of the judicial system and if I’d like to continue my path of becoming an attorney,” Gipson said.
The internship program prepares students pursuing a political or judicial career path. Students interested in this program can contact Robb or speak to a counselor.
“It’s a whole different world. It’s not like the trials you see on the TV,” Robb said. “I tell students, don’t do this unless you are serious about becoming a lawyer, because people’s lives are at stake.”
For details concerning the internship, contact Denise Robb at: RobbDM@piercecollege.edu