Exploring the World of Law Through an Internship
Oct 16, 2019
This summer I was able to intern at Espinosa Law, a law firm primarily dedicated towards immigration law. Other areas of practice at Espinosa law offices include deportation defense, asylum, applications, and family-based immigration — as well as business and criminal law.
The firm is led and managed by the immigration and criminal law lawyer, Jean -Pierre Espinosa who practiced law in Peru before traveling to the U.S. to practice law in Lakeland. He simultaneously manages both his offices in Florida, as well as his office in Lima, Peru.
“What was most helpful about this Law and the Courts course is that we were able to hear firsthand the experiences of several lawyers.”
Gianny Espinosa '20
I had initially heard about Espinosa law through the Political Science department at Florida Southern College, as well as through colleagues. Mr. Espinosa frequented some of the pre-law course classes to speak about the practice of law and running a private firm. I was immediately interested. As someone who primarily is focused on politics, since it is my major, I was looking for a Pre-Law internship that caught my attention, and Espinosa Law did just that. I thought, if I were to do any type of law, it would be immigration law. As the daughter of two immigrants, it was important for me to be involved in an internship that incorporated my passion of helping marginalized communities along with my values and my interest in the law. I overall wanted to be a part of something that helped other marginalized communities so that they could get the opportunities that were granted to my family.
I began my internship at Espinosa almost immediately, starting about a week after my interview with Mr. Espinosa. At first, I was excited and also nervous to start what would be my first internship opportunity outside of the political science realm. Besides taking some pre-law classes, I had no idea exactly what I was getting into. At my interview I was told that I would be filing and helping around the office, so I didn’t really know what to expect my first week. All I was hoping for at the time was that this internship would not only teach me a lot, but also would clarify my career path.
Not too long after beginning at Espinosa’s, I began attending meetings for Florida Southern’s Summer Internship Program. In this program, I was able to learn many valuable lessons that I was able to apply to my internship and that ultimately helped me developed some skills. Right off the bat, from the first week of the program we took an online assessment test that identified our top five strengths. My top strengths were; learner, strategic, input, analytical and deliberative. I was not necessarily shocked at these results. They all matched up in some ways to traits that I have been assigned in other personality assessment tests. I was instead intrigued because although I knew that I possessed these traits, it was the first time that they were discreetly outlined and identified for me. This definitely made me more aware of them.
As an intern, I aided in preparing legal documents, making phone calls to courts, and inputting case information into databases. During my first week I met all of the employees at the office and learned to do some general tasks. The office is small, with just 7 employees, two of whom were attorneys. My first week mainly consisted of filing paperwork. Albeit, filing seems like a small task, but when there are hundreds of files, and many locations, it definitely tested my time management skills. Initially, I was overwhelmed. There were a few things that I struggled with at first. I felt like I was given a lot of responsibility, working and drafting important confidential documents that were sent to government agencies like ICE, the FBI and USCIS. I also, as aforementioned would have to file client folders in several different possible locations. There is so much paperwork involved with each of the clients and so many details depending on whether it was an asylum or regular immigration case.
One of my skills was being a learner. As a learner, I acquire new skills quickly and also thoroughly enjoy learning. This helped me tremendously in the first few weeks of my internship because I was able to not only adapt quickly to new situations but also learn how to do several detail oriented, difficult tasks. I learned quickly, which allowed me to focus on pressing tasks and develop my other skills. During my time at Espinosa, I also was able to further develop my strategic and deliberative skills. With the task of filing I was able to be more strategic in the manner that I completed my tasks by being deliberative with what I was planning on doing. I created a plan or strategy and worked out the details on how I was going to execute tasks before completing them. By being more deliberative, it helped me to be more efficient.
Before I interned at Espinosa law, I had taken a few law related courses to complete my pre-law minor requirements and that prepared me for this internship. The most significant class that I took was Law and the Courts. This is not only the course that introduced me to Jean-Pierre and this internship, but it also taught me about the ins-and outs about the law. What was most helpful about this Law and the Courts course is that we were able to hear firsthand the experiences of several lawyers. These lawyers practiced in several different fields of the law and gave us a lot of insight on what it was like to be a lawyer and own a law practice. This gave me a better idea on what I would be exposed to at an internship like the one at Espinosa law.
Internships are not only a great way of discovering what you want to do in life and what you enjoy doing, but also for clarifying your career path. After a little more than 120 hours of working at Espinosa, I completed my internship. Though I thoroughly enjoyed interning at Espinosa law, I did realized that I would like to stick to a career in the political realm and work in policy and legislation. I also realized that I wanted to work in a legislature, so that I could help to create and change laws that affect immigrant communities. Yet, being involved in this internship and the Summer Internship Program at FSC truly helped me transform for the better.