Written by: Anika Thakkar '23
This summer, I participated in the Sonia and Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program, a selective and prestigious opportunity for high school students around New York City to learn more about the legal field through placement with judges throughout the five boroughs and participation in educational workshops. I was honored to be assigned as an intern with Judge James D'Auguste of the New York County Supreme Civil Court.
During the month of July, I commuted to Manhattan everyday to attend proceedings at different courthouses, including family, civil, criminal, and international trade. I observed several types of fascinating trials and settlements, including medical malpractice, commercial fraud, custody cases, and personal injury civil lawsuits. I enjoyed seeing firsthand the intense interactions and conversations between lawyers, witnesses, and the judge during trial. Having acted as an expert witness auditor in a financial fraud case during Mock Trial at school, I was particularly intrigued when I watched a real fraud case unfold. It was interesting to dissect the parallels and differences between the two and learn about the case's history. When I heard certain terms and topics that I wasn't familiar with, the first thing I did was research more about them. My favorite part of each case was watching the defendant take the stand and testify, as I saw the deep emotions and passion they had while defending themselves.
Hanging out in the judge's chambers, I had the opportunity to proof decisions and speak with Judge D’Auguste and my fellow interns (high schoolers and law students) about different cases and law in general. I learned about the additional paths I may be interested in exploring and realized there are a lot more possibilities in law than I once thought such as financial, international, and intellectual property law.
In addition to interning with Judge D'Auguste, I participated in educational and professional development workshops about legal research, college admissions, and networking. Speaking with state and federal judges and even Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor herself was certainly a highlight! Hearing from Justice Sotomayor was such a surreal and inspirational experience, and she had so much advice to offer. Her words were especially moving because she has been a role model for me as a woman of color interested in law.
This program has been an incredible learning opportunity and has prompted my further curiosity in law and policy.