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8/15/12: Externship Profile: City of Charleston

Second-year Charleston Law students Robert Donaldson and Cassity Brewer spent eight weeks of their summer externing with the City of Charleston Legal Department. Utilizing their strong research skills, they worked on various tasks including drafting ordinances for the City, sitting in on meetings with the City of Charleston staff and writing court documents.

Providing the students an opportunity to participate in several facets of the law is a key component of an externship with the City of Charleston. “Our externs collaborate with everyone in the office on real-world issues and are directly involved with the process,” explains Assistant Corporation Counsel Janie Borden, the students’ site supervisor.

Donaldson, born and raised in Charleston, graduated from Wofford College in 2011 then came back to Charleston for law school. “I wanted to extern at the City of Charleston because it was a chance to learn about the law in a place that I have spent my entire life,” said Donaldson. “Researching issues that I already had an awareness of was incredibly interesting.”

After growing up in England, Brewer’s family moved to Columbia, where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina. Externing for the City of Charleston provided Brewer the opportunity to experience a variety of legal areas. “I have learned a good deal about the zoning and municipal laws the City follows and how the City regulates tourism,” said Brewer.

Developing and improving their research skills was a key component to Donaldson and Brewer’s externship. “Having the opportunity to research a variety of different fields this summer has helped me further determine what type of law I want to practice,” Brewer explains.

“Most of our time is spent researching legal questions that our department gets from other departments within the City,” said Donaldson. “While attending Municipal Court I was able to observe the outcome of a case in which I contributed a draft on an opposition to a motion to dismiss. It was exciting to see my own legal research being applied in court.”

Utilizing her first-year law courses, Brewer explains how she used a lot of skills taught in Legal Research and Writing to draft memos and complete work. “I have also found my first-year Property classes to be helpful as the City encounters a good deal of property disputes,” said Brewer.

While overseeing the externs Borden adds, “We depend on the externs and want to provide them with an excellent experience. We build a relationship with the students and want people who could work with us in the future.”

Both students agree that an opportunity to work with the City of Charleston’s Legal Department is a worthwhile experience. “Everyone who works here is great and this externship is an excellent way to contribute to the City in a meaningful way,” said Donaldson. “It is fulfilling to know that you are involved in such a significant role in doing what is best for Charleston.”

Charleston School of Law’s externship program allows students to gain practical work experience while earning course credit. Students complement their classroom studies by working under the direct supervision of members of the judiciary or attorneys in the public sector. This summer, Charleston School of Law students are at 28 dynamic externships sites helping the community. Since fall 2006, Charleston School of Law students have completed approximately 72,829 externship hours.

Story and photography by Lucy J. Remitz.

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Release Date: 8/15/2012