University of Galway Student Participates in Los Angeles Federal District Court Summer Externship Program

Our recent Law and Business Graduate Isobel McAllen pictured at the Los Angeles Federal District Court Summer Externship Program
Sep 12 2023 Posted: 10:02 IST

This summer I had the privilege to participate in the Los Angeles Federal District Court 2023 Summer Externship Program, organised by the Irish American Bar Association. Each year the program consists of one student from each of the six participating Irish Law Schools and I was delighted to be the student selected from University of Galway School of Law.

The program consisted of eight weeks in the Los Angeles Federal District Court working in the Judge’s chambers and two weeks in the Superior Court. In Federal Court, I spent four weeks with one Judge and then switched to another Judge where I spent another four weeks.

During my time in Federal Court, I assisted the law clerks in conducting legal research where I got to work on interesting cases, for example cases involving high profile celebrities. I had the opportunity to prepare legal memorandums which involved reading the facts of the case and making an informed decision on whether the case should be dismissed or not, which ultimately the Judge would decide. I got the opportunity to observe sentencing hearings and see first-hand how a Judge will decide the case. After each hearing, I had the opportunity to speak to the Judge and see why/how he reached his decision, which was always very fascinating and thought-provoking.

During my time in Superior Court, I got to observe all different kinds of trials such as family, complex, labour and criminal (including murder trials). One trial involved a medical malpractice case, where we got to see how the attorneys selected a jury. I soon realised how important, and at times very tedious this job is.

I also visited the family court, where children up to the age of eighteen had their hearings. This court was much different to a regular court, which reminded me of a children’s hospital. There were teddy bears in each courtroom, children’s art on the wall, and also a playroom for kids to be taken to while they are waiting. It was emotional hearing cases of children who suffered abuse in their childhood and moved from one foster family to another. The Judges and attorneys in this court do an incredible job in making sure the main focus is the child and giving them the chance to thrive and have the best life possible.

The other externs and I made the most of being in California for the summer, as none of us had ever been in California before. We visited San Diego, Malibu, Oxnard, San Francisco, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. We got to go to a Dodgers game, Getty Museum, hike to the Hollywood sign, go to the Griffith observatory, Santa Anita Racetrack, Hollywood bowl, Delmar racetrack and much more. One of the highlights of this summer for me was going surfing with Judge Crowley every Sunday.

Overall, this tremendous opportunity allowed my fellow externs and I to gain a unique insight into the U.S legal system and learn from highly experienced judges. The contacts, friendships, and connections you make are unforgettable.

Isobel McAllen
Law and Business Graduate, Class of 2023



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