Nina Catalano, 3L, spent the summer of 2011 at the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), an organization that conducts research and development for the court system. The principle location is in midtown New York, although it does have smaller offices in Albany and London. CCI closely resembles the work of the Vera Institute, and the two of them often collaborate.

During the summer, Nina spent eight weeks with CCI and got to work on a variety projects. The type of work included research, programming, and serving as a consultant for judges. Nina was able to focus on the areas that interest her, so her projects involved looking into possible responses to child abuse and setting up a pilot project to do observations in juvenile delinquent hearings. Within her consultant position, Nina attended court regularly and was able to meet with several judges. Nina found her coworkers to be very open to students’ interests, but those who did not speak up about what experience they hoped to get often got stuck with the projects no one else claimed. This included two months’ of Lexis research, so Nina definitely feels that anyone who works there in the future should express his or her interests from the beginning.

Nina described CCI’s office culture as “awesome.” The staff was very observant of others’ successes and celebrations, and birthdays and weddings were frequent causes for office festivities. The office culture was very open and communal. The midtown office has about 50 people, so it is small enough to get to know most of the other employees; however, they have projects all over the city, so there are plenty of opportunities to get out and interact with others. CCI is open to 1L interns, and six out of the eight 2011 interns were 1Ls. The New York location made it very easy to get around, and CCI included a free subway pass for the months of the internship. Since the office is in New York, however, the cost of living is naturally very high.

CCI usually posts their positions for the next summer around December. Nina submitted a cover letter, resume, and writing sample, and she had a phone interview. She also stopped by in person to introduce herself when she was in New York. She spoke with a friend of a friend who had worked there the previous summer before applying, so she had a contact who had experience with the organization.

Written by OPIA 1L Section Representative Kimberly Newberry