Boyce & Schaefer, San Diego, CA
This summer I interned as a legal assistant at Boyce & Schaefer, a law firm based in San Diego dedicated to upholding the rights of indigent defendants charged with serious crimes. Approximately 60% of the firm’s cases involve representing indigent clients through public funding; clients who have been accused of committing the most serious offenses, including murder, child molestation and rape, possession of child pornography, property crimes and three strikes cases.
I assisted the firm in various ways throughout the summer. One of my primary responsibilities involved using the legal database LexisNexus to research and summarize case law that was then used in appellate memorandums, a skill I acquired on the Moot Court team at Williams. In addition to conducting factual and legal research, I helped draft trial pleadings and appellate issues, observed appellate arguments and trial court proceedings, and attended meetings with the firm’s investigators and clients.
One of the most exciting parts of the internship for me was the work I did on an upcoming high-profile trial referred to in the media as the Fat Leonard Scandal. This case involves the United States Navy and a defense contractor run by a Malaysian national known as “Fat Leonard.” The U.S. government alleges that Leonard provided at least a half million dollars to a large number of U.S. officers of the United States Seventh Fleet, who in turn supposedly gave him classified material about the movements of U.S. ships and submarines. U.S. federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 33 people. The firm is defending one of the naval officers charged in the case in the upcoming trial, and I assisted the firm by sorting through and reviewing thousands of documents put in discovery by the U.S. government. Moreover, I had the privilege of working directly with the client and using information they provided me to assist in finding corroborating evidence.
This internship gave me a better understanding of criminal law proceedings and the court system. My experience at Boyce & Schaefer reaffirmed my curiosity for law and issues relating to criminal and social justice. One legal issue that I spent a good amount of time researching involved cases regulating exculpatory evidence. In the near future (possibly over a winter study or next summer) I would be very interested in working for a group that exonerates those who have been wrongly convicted.
Throughout this experience I also sharpened a number of my academic skills, such as reading and editing complex documents, conducting research in topics I am unfamiliar with, and executing time-sensitive tasks. These tools have made me a more confident problem solver, which is the reason why I chose to attend a liberal arts college. I am so appreciative of both the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and Martin Collins ’86 for making this internship opportunity possible. I have learned a great deal, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped me make this experience happen.