Law Office of Dunham & Jones P.C.
Fall 2012 Site Review
Position: Legal Intern
Student: Government Senior
8:00 A.M.: The office doors open, the Keurig is already working overtime and calls start inundating the large white house behind the 7/11 on MLK and Guadalupe.
“I have court this morning. Do I have to be there?”
“Will you make sure my client is in CC5 at 9:00?”
“Has my attorney left for court yet, I’d like to speak with him before court this morning?”
“My son was arrested for a DWI last night. What would it take to get him out?”
Although interns, known as legal assistants, have the option of working mornings or afternoons, I worked mornings Monday through Friday all semester. Since criminal attorneys represent clients in court every morning from 8:00 a.m. to about 12:00 p.m. in Travis County, this creates busy hours at the start of the work day. From answering clients’ calls to maintaining attorney’s schedules to working to release new and/or prospective clients from jail, two cups of coffee, comfortable walking shoes, and the ability to learn and react quickly on your feet are essential. Due to the many nuances of the legal profession, there is rarely a morning without a new lesson.
9:30 A.M.: The court docket is secured. The prospective client appointments are underway.
With all of the clients and attorneys content and in the correct courtrooms, now the firm’s managing attorneys maintain and augment the client list. As people of various backgrounds, cases, and native languages enter the office, each situation tests interpersonal and professional skills. The majority of clients effectively communicate. However educational and language barriers prevent some from elucidating their legal issues or understanding procedural directions. Additionally, many times clients will not act appropriately, either presenting rage or discontent. These actions test the virtues of patience and character as well as time management and communication skills. Some mornings the collection of necessary information for initial consultations is an easy task and other mornings it might involve a translator or an additional hour of explanation or follow up questioning. In either context, the firm expects courteous, calm, focused and assertive behavior.
11:00 A.M.: The attorneys return to confirm and schedule upcoming court dates. All finalize the afternoon’s appointments to prep for future proceedings and/or trials.
From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. the attorneys trickle back into the office. Armed with the dates for future proceedings and appointments, individual and office calendars quickly amass the avalanche of color coded events. Additionally, the attorneys finalize and prepare for the afternoon’s appointments. Many times this requires the preparation of paperwork or other internal mechanisms. As they leave for lunch, tasks are assigned to be completed by the time they return to fulfill their afternoon commitments. The majority of client appointments consist of watching police tapes, preparing for trial or completing affidavits or similar paperwork. While the attorneys prepare for the majority of these by themselves, many times tasks entail contacting clients or completing paperwork for occupational licenses.