Final year student finds success interning at Amicus

Image of Jessica Holloway.

Jess Holloway has been awarded the Volunteer of the Month Award for July while interning at Amicus, a charity that represents those facing the death penalty in the US. 

Supporting Amicus 

BCU’s Centre for American Legal Studies (CALS) has supported Amicus’ death penalty training programme for many years, delivering expert sessions on the United States Constitution, international law, and wrongful convictions, to hundreds of participants annually.

Dr Sarah Cooper recommended me to Amicus for a remote internship as part of the Centre’s American Legal Practice module,’ Jessica explains. 

‘Sarah thought I would be a good fit due to having experience in promotional work and social media, as well as having the legal knowledge for the internship, as Amicus volunteers do a variety of tasks rather than just doing casework.’

This yielded a comprehensive insight into how operational leaders can achieve success during seismic disruption.  

Assisting with real life cases during lockdown

Jess feels her internship has allowed her to experience a real variety of tasks, from assisting with actual cases to planning a big event for the charity.

‘I have done a lot of casework, which has included reviewing documents provided by Facebook, adding to a theory memo which the team use to pull theories together about the client and reviewing document digests written by other caseworkers.

‘As well as casework, I have created social media posts for the Amicus accounts and helped to plan and manage a big event on Amicus’ Instagram on the 30th Anniversary of Andrew Lee Jones’ execution, which is the whole reason Amicus was founded.’

‘I am really excited to start working on the next big event which is the Amicus Autumn Training. I will be helping to prepare the sessions, which are delivered by a variety of people from high-profile barristers to death row exonerees. It is a great opportunity for everybody, including students to learn more about US law, human rights and gain valuable skills which are also relevant to careers in the U.K.’

Though internships on the American Legal Practice module usually involve travelling to the United States to intern, COVID-19 restrictions have caused a shift to remote working. Though remote working presents certain challenges, Jess says there are several positives to it.

If it wasn’t for remote working, I may not have had the chance to volunteer with Amicus seeing as they are based in London and I live in Bristol, so I am definitely grateful for that opportunity.

‘However, I do find it sad that we can’t be in the office because everybody is so lovely, and I know it would be such a great environment if we could all work together in the same place.’

 Not your average student

In addition studying modules on her course, Jess has also taken part in the Voluntary Research Assistantships Scheme (VRAS), one of the student research collaboration opportunities available as part of her studies in the School of Law.

‘This year I did a VRA on wrongful convictions in the US and the Universal Periodic Review. I am also currently doing some research for Amicus to help one of my fellow volunteers with something she is working on.’

She reflects that alongside her course, these opportunities prepared her for the type of work she did during her internship.

‘The American Legal Practice module taught me about professional communications, legal writing and the basics of the American Criminal Legal System.

‘In addition, the podcast I do with my co-hosts Kate and Ellie (called Not Your Average Student) was great preparation when hosting conversations for the ‘In Memory’ event which I helped to plan for Amicus on their Instagram account.’

Jess encourages all students to grab as many volunteering and research opportunities as they can as she says these opportunities can really help students figure out what they would like to do in the future if they are unsure or cannot decide on a particular path.

‘Since being at Amicus, I am so much more confident in myself and I have found an area of law which I am really passionate about, as I find the death penalty so fascinating in the way it works. I am totally against it, so being able to work on cases involving this area of law has been absolutely amazing. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.’

Find out more about BCU’s work with Amicusstudent research opportunities in the School of Law, or catch up on Jess’s podcast, Not Your Average Student.