By Delaney Williams, intern, Gray
Legal internships are the single most intimidating aspect of law school, in my opinion. They are presented in the media as these cutthroat and future-deciding experiences that will make or break your career. You barely make it a month into your first year before you’re being instructed on how to build the best resume and cover letter, and don’t forget that you’ll need the best grades, and even then you might be studying during a pandemic, when employers are taking fewer interns than in previous years or none at all. Once you finally land a position, you’re told horror stories of long hours, overwhelming assignments, and callous bosses.
Thankfully, none of the miserable experiences I was warned of happened to me.
It was incredibly difficult to find an internship for the summer, and I had to rely on networking more than I had expected coming into law school. But I was able to land an internship with the Gray office. I had very minimal experience in workers’ compensation and was unsure if it was even a field that interests me.
My summer in workers’ compensation opened my eyes to a field of law I had not considered previously and presented opportunities that I may not have gotten otherwise. I was able to learn about Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation Law from a neutral standpoint, which provided me with a deeper understanding of how the law applies to each case in its entirety.
During the summer, I observed and participated in many steps of a workers’ compensation case. I sat in on mediations, some of which settled and some did not. I now know how beneficial mediations are for resolving issues outside the courtroom. I observed scheduling hearings and status conferences, and while I knew these took place during the life cycle of a case, I did not fully understand how integral they were to the process. I attended an expedited hearing on a medical benefits request. This was my first time seeing any sort of real legal proceeding in a courtroom setting. I compared what I imagined a trial would be like and what it was actually like. Finally, I observed many settlement approvals, where the parties had found solutions that benefitted them both. I also had the opportunity to see some cases go through multiple stages, and it was fulfilling to see them reach conclusions.
I want to thank the Court for my internship this summer. I never felt like I was “just an intern” or that I was unable to share my thoughts or ideas. I also want to thank the attorneys I met this summer. Everyone was more than willing to speak with me about my education and career goals. They took time out of their day to teach me about what they do. Finally, I want to thank Judge Brian Addington and staff attorney Traci Haynes. They took a chance on someone they barely knew and provided an unforgettable experience. Being able to work for a judge during your first year of law school is an opportunity that not many first-year students get, and I will always be grateful.
While I don’t know for sure where my career path will lead, I know that my experience with the Court will provide a firm base from which I can grow.