Discovering the type of lawyer I want to be

Law student, Thomas Nicklin, was placed at the Arizona Justice Project for his internship - an organization which helps inmates overturn wrongful convictions. We caught up with him about his experience, visiting prisons and what he learnt from working alongside attorneys. 

Which company did you do your internship with?    

I interned with the Arizona Justice Project, in Phoenix.     

What did your internship involve?   

I was tasked with reviewing case files sent by prisoners, investigating their claims, and synthesizing all that information into succinct memos for the attorneys.

The AJP are only a small organization, but they receive a high volume of applications from prisoners, and so the interns play a vital role in effectively screening the cases that are submitted and finding those with merit to pass along. If you find a case that looks promising, you work alongside the attorneys until the conclusion of that case.    

Though I never encountered a case with enough merit to pass along in the dozens I reviewed, I was still able to work on active AJP cases. I went to visit a client in prison with one of the attorneys and was able to work on several additional cases the FBI submitted to the AJP for review.       

What was the most valuable thing you learned?   

I took many things from this experience, but I think the most valuable was being able to work with some of the most amazing people. Their compassion and work ethic were incredibly inspiring, and when I think about what type of lawyer I want to be, I look to the wonderful people at the AJP as my role models.      

Did you face any significant challenges during your internship?   

The most challenging thing for me was the time difference and being so away from my family and friends back home. Whilst there was no shortage of things to do, it feels weird being plucked out of your normal routine and dropped somewhere that is so different. Fortunately, the people at the AJP were very warm and friendly, and I was able to travel with other interns during my free time.     

What was the highlight of your internship?   

There are many things I could mention here, but the big one for me is when a client who had been incarcerated for over 50 years had his clemency application approved!      

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How did BCU help you in undertaking your internship?   

The American Legal Practice module equipped me with many of the skills I needed throughout the internship and gave me an overview of what to expect whilst I was out there. This was invaluable information! I was also fortunate to receive two scholarships, one from the BCU Go Global fund and an American Legal Practice scholarship, which helped significantly with the financial costs.      

Do you think your internship has benefitted your career prospects?   

Absolutely! At the very least, it’s something that helps my CV stand out. I can spend hours talking about it, and it’s something interviewers are always curious to hear about. I know that in my current position as a PhD candidate, where I work with an area of law affecting prisoners, my experience at the AJP gave me a first-hand understanding of their struggles and really motivates me to work hard.     

Do you have any advice for students starting a law internship?   

Whatever you put into the experience is what you’ll get out of it! You’ll learn so much from everyone there – both the attorneys and the other students, so really try and make the most of it.  

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