3L Christopher Garner discusses the important practical experience and skills he has gained as an extern for The Honorable Linda G. Morrissey, District Judge of the District Court of Tulsa County.
I began my externship with Judge Linda Morrissey at the beginning of this semester. I saw this opportunity listed on Symplicity and thought that it would be great to add to my resume. This experience has essentially been a practical lesson in civil procedure. I remember sitting in my civ pro class wondering how all the pieces really fit together. Discovery, voir dire, summary judgment, etc. all seemed so abstract that I didn’t really “see the forest for the trees.” However, this externship has taken these principles, as well as many others, and really contextualized the procedure and exactly what attorneys must do to move a case forward.
Many of the projects I have worked on include writing memos and providing analysis for: motions for summary judgment; applications to withdraw; motions to vacate; and motions to substitute party. While there are set rules governing these various procedures, no two cases are the same and could go either way. Additionally, another primary responsibility is reviewing journal entries of judgment to ensure all filed documents are in compliance with the rules. Before this position, I was not even aware that this final step even existed.
As this position is with Tulsa County, many of the older systems of how things are done are still in place. In an effort to update the day-to-day procedures, Judge Morrissey asked me to create a fillable PDF document for journal entry reviews in an effort to move review to a digital format. This project gave me the opportunity to work with and gain a basic understanding of Adobe Acrobat. While I honestly never thought I would have to teach myself a computer program for a judicial externship, I am happy that it worked out this way because I now feel confident in my ability to work with Acrobat as well as researching and writing memos regarding legal questions.
Looking back, I have enjoyed my experience working with Judge Morrissey. She is truly one of the best supervisors I have had as she is encouraging, patient, and happy to help students pursue their interests. I feel like taking at least three credit hours to do a judicial externship is something every law student should consider. First of all, it is a chance to get out of the classroom for a change. More importantly though, is the opportunity to take the knowledge we learn in class and actually put that knowledge into practice.