First week at NCSC

So I’m starting off my summer working for the National Center for State Courts, International Programs Division, in Arlington, VA. I’m settled into an apartment in Courthouse, just about a ten minute walk from the office. My biggest concern in moving up here was my dog, a puggle named Moxie, but there are tons of great places to wander around on our long walks, so I’m happy for that. It’s also just nice being back—I’m from northern Virginia and worked here several years before attending law school—so I’ll get to catch up with some old friends, and of course get to eat some fabulous food before I head back to Williamsburg this fall.  

Tim, the attorney in charge of interns—myself and another woman, Sarah—has been great in letting us know what we’re going to be doing for the summer, including work on legal research, project management/federal contracting issues, and corporate counsel-type functions. He’s designed weekly discussions between the interns and other attorneys in the office on various rule of law issues and practical considerations for working in the field, so we’ll definitely get a well-rounded picture of what working in this sector is like, even in such a short period.

We’ve already gotten several assignments from Tim and others in the office – some are focused on project management requirements for specific countries, like Serbia, where others are helping to standardize policies and procedures in-house across all programs. It’s a good introduction to working in a small office on legal issues, where everybody has a little bit of everything to complete. The staff has been quite engaging so I anticipate some interesting tasks in the weeks ahead!

The highlight of the week was definitely visiting the Supreme Court. Tim was generous enough to invite myself, Sarah, and another attorney to hear Justice Sotomayor speak about her recent book and answer questions during the annual Supreme Court Historical Society lecture. She was inspirational in sharing vignettes of her tireless work ethic. She gave tidbits of advice on her proactive mindset: she advised the audience to not only ask questions about how to go about changing an issue, but to always be taking action to lead and shape the necessary change. As for being a Justice, she explained her stress level is slightly different in rendering decisions now as opposed to her time on the 2nd Circuit, since there are (usually) reasonable opinions from reasonable judges made in lower courts. She highlighted that sitting on the court of last resort really nails home the adversarial nature of decisions and how because there is a winner, that by defintion a loser is also created, a fact not lost on her. 

At the Supreme Court!

After the discussion, we got to tour the court as well – though I’m from the area, this is one place in DC I’ve never actually been, so it was really neat to wander through and especially to see in person how grand and ornate the courtroom really is.

This week I’ve started on a few projects, including compiling data on the foreign company registration procedures and relevant treaties/law underpinning those procedures in the areas NCSC is operating in, as well as updating some of the International Division policies and procedures handbook. More to come!