CDR Mediation Summer Internship–Class of 2016

2016 Summer Internship Program at DK Law GroupThis past summer the Creative Dispute Resolution and DK Law Group returned with the “2nd Annual” Summer Internship program, selecting four high school students from those that participated in the 2016 Ventura Superior Court High School Mock Trial competition. With over 50 applicants seeking the available intern positions, four students were selected as the “best of the best” from those that applied.

Beginning in June through the end of August, the students were invited to participate in the real workings of the firm, shadowed Judge Long in mediations, toured the Ventura Courthouse under the guidance of Judge Bysshe and watched two live jury trials before Judges Walsh and Kellegrew. While working under the direction of Senior Managing Partner, David M. Karen, the interns were exposed to the “real world” of what it means to be an attorney in a civil litigation practice, all while using the program to further hone their advocacy skills.

Click here to see the 2016 Class Team project video!

This year, we included two of our 2015 DKLG/CDR Summer Internship program participants, Ali Suebert and Rita Elahad to return and assist as Mentors to the Program, helping to raise the bar to further develop the advocacy skills. The Mentors helped to provide further training for the interns, enlisting them to be ready to advocate on short notice with minimal preparation. Over the program term, the interns were all invited to assist on real projects in on-going cases, participating meaningfully with the work of the firm.

A summary of each of the 2016 Summer Interns experiences are reflected below.

Hunter Leppard

Hunter LeppardI graduated in the Class of 2016 from Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley with four years of Mock Trial experience under my belt. I was awarded third place for best Prosecution Attorney in Ventura County my senior year when my team placed second in the County. I have been admitted to University of California, San Diego to study Sociology with a focus in Law and Society as well as Communication. I am aiming to go to law school following my undergraduate education. As much as I thought I knew about trial and the law was nothing compared to what I learned in the two months of the Summer Internship program at the DK Law Group.

Throughout my time working as an intern for DK Law Group and Creative Dispute Resolution, I was able to grow and develop skills that I know I can use in the future. This internship offered by DK Law Group was not only a good place to start but extremely beneficial for me as a student aspiring to go to law school. With the direction and leadership of our mentors, Ali and Rita from last year’s Summer Internship program and DK himself, I received direction to hone my advocacy skills even further — such as using inflection, intonation, hand gestures, body movement and more in my presentations. I also was requested to do paid work for the firm, learning how to create deposition summaries for testimony in a pending case, attended a mediations and two real trials, as well as experienced first-hand the responsibilities of participating in a successful law firm.

Looking back over the summer this internship will always be where it all really started for me. It allowed me to get an extremely early start on learning what it takes, gaining exposure to things that most kids my age don’t get to see. I was able to do actual casework, learning the importance of both efficiency and thoroughness in order to be as productive as possible.

My favorite part of this internship was giving a closing argument in front of the whole firm. The internship, in general, was just an amazing experience. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and for all those who played a role in providing this experience. I specifically want to thank my fellow interns, all the DK Law Group partners and paralegals, as well as Judge Long and David Karen.

Sonia Patel

Sonia PatelWalking into DK Law Group as a rising senior from Newbury Park High School, I had very limited exposure to the field of law. My experience to date had been limited to Mock Trial, where I’d grown accustomed to reading a simplified casebook consisting of 4 witnesses, a short list of objections, and a two-page fact-sheet. However, after completing this internship program, my knowledge of civil litigation and arbitration has grown substantially.

In addition to spending eight weeks in a professional work environment, the internship has given me a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a lawyer and all of the moving parts that go into running a law firm. I have been given opportunities that the average high school student doesn’t come across. DK went out of his way to make sure I received as much exposure to the law as possible through shadowing a mediation, attending a Ventura County Bar Association seminar, observing expert testimony at a real trial at the Ventura Courthouse and having me do real work helping organize exhibits for a case that was currently in trial at the firm. Throughout the program DK kept me on my toes through impromptu presentations and advocacy battles against my fellow interns, some even at a firm lunch in a restaurant!

The internship selection process and the internship itself have also served as an introduction to how jobs are obtained in the real world. I have since learned how to write a cover letter, prepare for an interview, and handle myself in a professional work environment. The internship program at the DK Law Firm definitely pushed me beyond my comfort zone and taught me how to stay composed under pressure. As I enter my senior year at NPHS, I am excited to apply the skills I have learned during my internship to my schoolwork and Mock Trial. Thank you, DK Law Group for the incredible experience!

Emily Platt

Emily PlattBeing a member of Westlake High School’s Mock Trial team and an intern at DK Law Group this past summer has truly sparked an interest in the field of law. This summer I was offered many opportunities as a DK Law Group intern that I do not believe are offered anywhere. This internship allowed me to expand on my abilities while experiencing how my life as a lawyer could be. I learned how to create deposition summaries and refine my advocacy skills while improving my mock trial skills through objection practice and vocabulary quizzes. The field trip opportunities, such as touring the Ventura County Courthouse with Judge Bysshe and seeing a real trial with Judge Kellegrew and Judge Walsh, as well as sitting in on a Ventura County Bar Association seminar, have allowed me to look at law from many different perspectives that I would never could have without this internship.

Last year, I participated as a defense attorney on Westlake High School’s mock trial team. I transitioned from knowing nothing about the field of law to feeling comfortable with objecting and presenting in front of anyone. This internship has expanded my knowledge of advocacy and increased my desire to become a lawyer. I have been able to help the firm with filing and answering phones. My ability to develop numerous unique ways to solve problems on short notice has greatly improved. The countless nerve wracking situations DK has put us in to improve our advocacy skills have allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone, improve my speaking ability, and learn that imperfection is okay. This internship has instilled within me a new sense of excitement about my future in mock trial, in college, and in law.

I will be entering my senior year in high school in the fall of 2016 and will be part of Westlake’s Mock Trial team as captain. I am excited to incorporate the skills I have learned this summer into my mock trial experience and my future endeavors toward becoming a lawyer. I greatly appreciate the time and effort DK has put into making this internship a unique and unforgettable experience.

Helen Zhang

Helen ZhangPrior to this summer internship, I had three years of mock trial experience as a witness and prosecution attorney. Having been on the Camarillo High School Mock Trial team for so long, I thought I had a general idea of what it meant to be an attorney. This internship has exposed me to so many other aspects of law and trial advocacy. It has given me opportunities that I couldn’t find anywhere else, especially as a high school student. In the span of eight weeks I have listened to both plaintiff and defense attorneys give their opinions during a Bar Association seminar, observed an expert witness testify for a Lemon Law case at the Ventura County courthouse, and attended a mediation with Judge Long. These experiences have allowed me to see how the law is enforced and upheld in real life, and they have only reinforced my growing interest in the legal field.

My time with DK Law Group has pushed me completely outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow not only as a public speaker, but also as a person. Being able to recite a speech that had been crafted over the course of several months simply wasn’t going to cut it here. The impromptu advocacy battles have forced me to confront my weaknesses and overcome them, slowly but surely. Above everything, I learned that discomfort is okay. Giving a three-minute speech on the spot without panicking isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I am forever grateful for these memories and lessons that I will take with me to my fourth and final year of mock trial and to the rest of my life. Thank you DK Law Group for this unforgettable opportunity!