Jade, Maguire Fellow in Dallas

Jade is a Juris Doctor candidate at Dedman School of Law. She was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2014 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU to intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. Her work will include both civil and criminal litigation work for the principal federal prosecution authority for North Texas.

Finding Michael Jackson at the FBI

My Advanced Legal Research professor, SMU’s amazing Donna Wolff, taught me to follow the Michael Jackson rule when it comes to conducting research: don’t stop ’til you get enough. The logic is that when the case law starts overlapping and referring back to what’s already been reviewed, the research circle has closed and that phase of the project has ended. The hard work of applying that newfound knowledge begins.

Until now, my approach to law school has been to experience as much variety in the legal internships and jobs I take as possible to better define what practice area and career path to pursue upon graduation. The problem is that, with the exception of family law, I have enjoyed all the work so far.

A recent tour of the FBI showed me that the Michael Jackson rule might apply to my law school journey, as well. The agent leading us through the facility mentioned that the agency’s old headquarters was housed in the West End. Following the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the powers that be determined that the headquarters should be less accessible to the public and thus, less amenable to attack.

It clicked for me then that I had worked in the West End building he referenced as a baby law student two summers ago. It is a beautiful space and serves as home to several companies, including the labor and employment boutique I clerked for.

As my time at the USAO winds down — tomorrow is my last day here, sadly — it resonates, too, that my experiences have started overlapping. My work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office brought me to the FBI headquarters, which used to be in a place I’ve already been. With law school graduation looming in December, I realize that the research circle is closing. Perhaps, that phase of this process has ended. The time has come for me to apply the knowledge gained from three summers of work and nearly four years of school, and boldly step into the future.

I eagerly anticipate everything that lies ahead.

Posted in Jade, Maguire Fellow in Dallas | Comments Off

On the range

During a recent trip hosted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to a Denton gun range, I got acquainted with an 80-year-old Thompson M1A1 (“Tommy Gun”) fully automatic submachine gun. It marked my first time holding a loaded weapon in my life.

The trip proved enlightening for two reasons: (1) it exposed me to the training ATF agents undergo to remain qualified; and (2) it underscored the importance of relationship-building with those agents. That day, I gained insight into the field agents’ work, firsthand.

The other interns and I had the opportunity to shoot AK-47s, pistols, an MP-5, an assault rifle and a shotgun. A picture, to prove it really did happen:

Jade

An introduction to an 80-year-old firearm, during a field trip hosted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Photo credit: Jade/SMU Adventures

Posted in Jade, Maguire Fellow in Dallas | Comments Off

ICE, ICE, baby

Jade, Maguire Fellow in North Texas

Field. Trip. Two words adults don’t often utter unless they’re referring to their school-aged children. To date, I’ve gone on two of my very own, grown-up field trips without having to chaperone my two gorgeous children and 40 of their nearest and dearest.

My fellow interns and I visited the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) office in Irving a couple of weeks ago. ICE, the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, works with various law enforcement partners to protect the country from threats, both foreign and domestic.

The agency is comprised of three primary divisions: Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”), Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Management and Administration (“M&A”). This visit stressed the ERO side of the agency’s work. In short, ERO identifies and removes illegal immigrants “who present a danger to national security [, a] risk to public safety, or defy our country’s immigration laws.” Seeing how the process begins in illegal re-entry cases helped close the circle for me. Shaking the hands of the ICE agents whose names grace the documents I use in my research was pretty cool, as well.

Last week, we went to the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville. A low-security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp and a detention center, the facility impressed me with how nice the grounds and staff were. The grounds boast soccer and softball fields and covered gazebos. Arguably, maybe it was too nice for a prison.

While we didn’t visit the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”) – no matter where I go, acronyms follow! So many acronyms, so little time – the worst of the facility we saw featured sun-dappled community rooms, cable TV and men sleeping two to a cell. The inmates are able to work in the textile factory making military field uniforms, in the cafeteria, barber shop, on the janitorial staff and even as peer tutors in the on-campus GED and college classrooms. Pretty cush.

Other field trips this summer will include an opportunity to tour ATF, the US Postal Service Inspection center, and the FBI. Can’t wait!

Posted in Jade, Maguire Fellow in Dallas | Comments Off

Born in the U.S.A. (O.)

JadeYes, I am a proud American woman, born here in these United States of America. But this summer, that classic Bruce Springsteen song takes on new meaning for me.

On May 19, I started a seven-week internship with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, or the U.S.A.O., as it’s commonly known. Already I can tell that this experience has the potential to change the course of my burgeoning legal career.

The Dallas office serves as headquarters for an extra-large district that covers nearly 96,000 square miles, more than 100 counties, and more than 7 million people throughout northern and western Texas. The United States Attorney is the government’s highest federal law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction and handles criminal, civil and appellate claims.

So far, the sheer breadth of what the office covers impresses me. Even the names sound cool: Fraud and Public Corruption. White-Collar Crime. Affirmative Civil Enforcement.

Speaking of being born in the U.S.A., we have spent a good amount of time learning about those who aren’t. Illegal re-entry – AKA illegal immigration – claims comprise a good portion of the caseload flowing through the U.S.A.O. Whatever one’s political leanings, it is fascinating to see the process of how – and why – those cases are prosecuted.

A few takeaways, as I near the end of week two:

1) The time is absolutely flying. In nine days of working here, I’ve already been tasked with six assignments. They range in complexity, depth and subject matter. All have exposed me to areas of the law left untouched by my legal education thus far.

2) Upon receiving one of my latest assignments, I was told the attorney “expects great writing.” As a former newspaper reporter, you would think that would provide a sense of relief. No such luck. I started to itch just thinking about it. Not complaining, mind you. I like it when the bar is set high. Writing stirs a strange cocktail of emotions inside me, equal parts angst and ecstasy. When great writing is demanded, there is an extra layer of pressure.

3) My goal of learning something new every day seems shamefully modest now. I find that there is an avalanche of new coming at me every day, virtually all day. As a veteran law student, this should be nothing new. However, when learning occurs outside the glass box of academia and in the laboratory of real-world practice, it makes everything spring to life.

4) My plan to observe at least one proceeding before each of the fabulous magistrate and district court judges – whose courtrooms sit just a few floors above me – will require the sharpening of a skill that challenges me: time management. By the end of my time here, I will be a maestro of time management, a guru of getting it all done. If not, at least I will make it to court several times a week.

Regardless of what happens this summer, I can now say my legal career was born in the U.S.A., just like me.

Posted in Jade, Maguire Fellow in Dallas | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off