Fed. Judge Internship Prepares Student for Law School

Intern conducted research and drafted legal opinions for judge

Bridget Tainer '06, an international relations and political science double major, says her year-long internship with local federal judge James Turk '49 helped prepare her for law school at Washington and Lee, where she began in the fall of 2006.

"It is uncommon for undergraduates to even have the opportunity to intern in the chambers of a federal judge," says Assistant Professor of Public Affairs Dr. Todd Peppers, Tainer's internship advisor. "The fact that Bridget got to take part in researching cases and drafting opinions is extraordinary."

Tainer interned for a year at Turk's office. During her internship, she helped his law clerks do case research and organize the law library. She also drafted four legal opinions for Turk's pro se cases, which are cases where the person filing the complaint had no lawyer. These cases usually involved prisoners.

The double major says her transition to law school will be more smooth because her internship was given her an idea of how the legal process works and how legal documents are written. She also credits the research and writing opportunities she's gained through Summer Scholars projects for preparing her for law school.

"Analytical thinking is an important part of the legal education, and I think that performing research that emphasized analysis will prove extremely helpful in easing the transition to law school," Tainer says.

Tainer did undergraduate research at Roanoke through two Summer Scholars projects with Dr. Joshua Rubongoya, professor of public affairs. Her first Summer Scholars project focused on the African country of Ghana, where she traveled for her May Term. She studied human rights implementation there, asking why Ghana has better human rights than the rest of Africa but still has so many problems.

Her second Summer Scholars project examined how the human rights doctrine set up by Western leaders applies to countries with an Eastern emphasis on human dignity.

In addition to her internship and research work, Tainer is active in other aspects of the college community. She ran cross country and track all four years and has been a captain for both teams the last few years. Tainer has also served as president of Amnesty International. She says her work with this student organization stems from her Summer Scholars projects. Tainer is also a member of many honor societies on campus, including Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Chi, Pi Sigma Alpha, Sigma Delta Pi and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Despite all the activities Roanoke has made available to her, the opportunity to gain undergraduate research experience is one of Tainer's favorite things about Roanoke College. "I feel like at a different or bigger school there wouldn't be an opportunity to do such research," she says. "I feel like I'm a lot more prepared for law school because I have research skills."

Tainer says her law school choice was shaped by her experience at Roanoke College. Roanoke's small class size and the accessibility of professors were some of her favorite things about her time here. "This made me think about choosing a law school because I know the benefits of a small school," Tainer says.