Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Alexandria Vazquez, 2L, previously worked as an orthopedic surgery coordinator. She cites the field placement program as helping to shape her understanding of criminal law, legal research and the nuance of working alongside attorneys which she uses firsthand in her current role as an intern at the Leavenworth County Attorney’s Office.
Students involved in the Field Placement Program are provided an opportunity to perform legal work under the supervision of a practicing attorney at approved governmental agencies, as well as nonprofit legal services organizations and nonprofit public national and international organizations. Past placements have included the United Nations, JAG Corps, the ACLU of Kansas and many more.
Vazquez shared her experience with the Field Placement Program at KU Law for a Q&A.
Can you describe where you worked and what kind of work you did while in the program?
I started my internship this past summer at the Leavenworth County Attorney’s Office. I still work with attorneys to prosecute crimes – anything from theft, drug possession and capital murder. I read many police reports and worked with prosecutors to determine appropriate charges. I have assisted with preparing trial binders which includes reviewing evidence, creating a witness list and organizing documents per the attorney’s preference.
Were there any specific skills that you developed or improved through this program?
I certainly have improved my legal research skills and my ability to speak with attorneys. I personally find legal research especially intimidating because my findings can have a direct impact on the outcome of the case. The attorneys I worked with were especially receptive to any questions or concerns I had and gave me plenty of feedback.
How do you think this experience will impact the rest of your time in law school?
This experience has allowed me to see criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence in practice. I was able to connect concepts I learned in class to real-world cases. This experience will further help me in law school because I can use what I learned as an intern and apply that to future classes.
What has been your favorite part of working in your field placement?
My favorite part of this internship has been getting to know the attorneys on a personal and professional level. There is a wide range of personalities and backgrounds which makes going to work fun.
What would you say to law students considering enrolling in the field placement program?
I would recommend a field placement! Even if it is a field you do not plan on ultimately going into, it is still advantageous to expose yourself to a legal environment other than law school. The attorneys were in our position at one point and understand the ups and downs of law school. They can act as mentors and make the whole law school experience better.
-By Emma Herrman