Mentorship and Litigation Experience at the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division
January 24, 2013
The United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division – Special Litigation Section: long name, great summer experience. Jeremy Feigenbaum worked for Special Lit in Washington, D.C. his 1L summer, and he would highly recommend the opportunity to anyone thinking about working in civil rights litigation.
Like most interns at the DOJ, Jeremy’s work involved researching legal issues and writing memos. He researched broad treatment of legal issues among the Circuit Courts, specific application of laws in particular jurisdictions, and even did some social science research. He had the chance to sit in on litigation strategy sessions and assist in a deposition. He feels he gained not only research and writing skills through his work at Special Lit, but also learned how to navigate the particular challenges of collaborating in a large office.
He describes the environment there as “the ideal workplace. Everyone works hard and is passionate and efficient, but the lawyers are friends in addition to being colleagues.” The Intern Coordinator assigned him two mentors, one which helped him feel at home in D.C., and another that helped him manage his work tasks. He worked closely with about a dozen lawyers, but had relationships with some ten-to-fifteen more. “Everyone was so accessible and friendly!”
Jeremy was originally most interested in the office’s work on Freedom of Access to Clinical Entrances, but also enjoyed the opportunity to learn about how Special Lit enforces laws regarding civil rights in prisons, police brutality, and other issues.
Like all summer positions in the DOJ, Special Lit is competitive. Jeremy landed the job after applying in early December and interviewing in early January (though that interview was a little early compared to the office’s typical schedule). He describes his phone interview with the three intern coordinators as “casual and friendly.”
In short, Jeremy whole-heartedly recommends this particular arm of the world’s largest litigator to anyone with even a passing interest in the civil rights field.
Written by 1L OPIA Section Representative Chad Baker