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UGS Student Gets to Know the Justice System

Last spring, Andrew Cazavos talked to a friend who mentioned that she would be interning over the summer at a law firm. Inspired by her example, Andrew began putting out feelers for law-related internships (law is a long-term interest). Through a family connection, he arranged a meeting with the former mayor of McAllen, Texas, a UT Law alum, who in turn connected Andrew with a variety of law- and government-related internships with the city of McAllen. Ultimately, Andrew chose the McAllen City Hall and Municipal Court, and after filling out his application at city hall and undergoing rigorous security training, he donned his name badge and went to work.

Andrew’s favorite part of the summer was reading and sitting in on murder cases, but the position exposed him to many of the justice system’s inner workings. One of his main responsibilities was to “pre-review” cases, meaning he read over police reports submitted to his office to determine whether or not cases met the criteria to be taken to court. Andrew would make a preliminary decision and then send his recommendations on to the lawyers in his office for final review. Additionally, during his internship Andrew wrote warrants for arrest and delivered release notices to prisoners, and on occasion even escorted inmates out of prison upon their releases.

Andrew says that his internship experience confirmed that he is very comfortable in a legal setting. It also reinforced his interest in a law career: he likes that the people he worked with loved their jobs and enjoyed going to work. And he now knows more about career paths in the field. The lawyers he worked with, many of whom had been practicing for 20-30 years, explained that it can take 10 or more years of “grunt” work after law school before landing a job with the kind of flexible schedule and comfortable salary the lawyers in Andrew’s office have.

When asked what he learned from the summer experience, Andrew replied that he has a newfound understanding of law. He discovered that judges and lawyers do not work alone, and that it takes a “huge mass coordination of efforts” from all parties—lawyers, witnesses, receptionists, etc.—to make the legal system work. Andrew now has an appreciation for how hard everyone involved in the process works, and how important each person is to the big picture.

Andrew offered advice to other students contemplating internships: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Be willing to sacrifice your summer. Seek out the organizations and companies for whom you wish to work. Internships will help you build the relationships that will help you in your future.

Andrew’s hard work earned him an invitation to return next summer. He thinks he’ll choose to work exclusively with the District Attorney’s office, because this office is responsible for higher-level cases, like those involving murder charges. Andrew says this will give him the chance to learn about different aspects of the law that may be most closely aligned with his interests.

Interview and story by Rose Mastrangelo.