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California law students nab D.C. internships

By Josh Richman
Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 5:02 pm in Barbara Boxer, Berkeley, education, U.S. House, U.S. Senate.

Law students from the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA are beltway-bound in a new full-semester academic internship program.

“UCDC Law” will place second- and third-year law students in congressional offices, the Justice Department, regulatory agencies and elsewhere around the nation’s capital; UC-Irvine students eventually will take part, too. Only a handful of U.S. law schools have academic programs in Washington, D.C.

“This is a direct and powerful way to expose students to aspects of lawyering in Washington and thereby broaden their thinking about professional paths available to them,” says Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley Jr., who recently advised President Barack Obama’s transition team. “Our new classroom technology will also enable us to connect our students and experts in Washington with law students on campus, combining resources for dynamic interactive instruction.”

The first batch of interns, including seven from Berkeley, already has settled into Washington. Second-year Berkeley student Dyanna Quizon, placed in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the level of responsibility they’ve been given “is amazing.”

“I’ve been asked to help lead a substantive training session for federal employees on making programs more accessible to non-English speaking communities,” she said. “A law student telling government officials what to do in important situations? Pretty incredible.”

More, after the jump…

UCDC Law program director Karen Lash calls it “an unparalleled opportunity” for students to see how government works from the inside. “They’ll also be exposed to a range of career opportunities that are unique to Washington, D.C.”

Participating students get a companion seminar on lawyers’ roles in creating federal legislation, as well as weekly classes with talks from senior staffers from the House Office of Legislative Counsel, the State and Treasury departments, the Congressional Research Service, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s staff and even National Public Radio legal reporter Nina Totenberg (for whom one UCLA student, a former reporter, is interning).

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