Landon Lerner - Judicial Extern for Hon. Dean D. Pregerson, United States District Court for the Central District of California
Working in the United States District Court has been among the best experiences I have ever had and it is surely one I will not soon forget. I feel privileged and humbled every day I walk into the courthouse as it gives me a sense of pride, honor, and responsibility.
Judge Pregerson is an amazing judge and moreover, a wonderful individual. He asks me insightful questions and always ensures that I am working on interesting and educational projects. He is approachable, unimposing, witty, and brilliant. Judge Pregerson is an absolute pleasure to work for.
I have learned more in my time as an extern than I ever imagined. I knew I would be exposed to several areas of the law. I did not and could not however, have known to what extent. I now have in depth knowledge and experience in several practice areas including, but not limited to, employment, patents, civil rights, contracts, personal injury, and criminal law. The eclectic mix of cases filed in the district court presents an opportunity to work in a different practice area each day.
There is no comparison between a regular law school class and working in the district court. Unlike a class, during which a professor tells me what to read and how to analyze a rule of law, each of my current assignments require me to analyze and research from start to finish without any assistance. On any given project, I read moving papers, check the parties' research and logic, conduct my own independent research, and write a recommendation for the judge. While the classroom setting is very insightful, it can never duplicate the significance and practicality of a real-world courtroom setting. Much of law school is theoretical rather than practical; working in the court provides an opportunity to put the skills I have learned to use.
Further, there is no substitute for learning the likes and dislikes of the people behind the scenes in the courtroom. I am now better prepared than I would have been because I have a better idea of how to effectively advocate a position while still being informative on the current law. Knowledge of the way in which courtroom documents are read by the staff is invaluable knowledge as well. Overall, this experience has prepared me to be a more productive and skilled lawyer in the future.
In addition to working behind the scenes researching and writing for Judge Pregerson, I watch the Judge in court as often as possible. Any time work permits, I observe courtroom proceedings. I have the opportunity to watch lawyers with all different levels of experience and I try to learn from all of them. Watching and studying Judge Pregerson, as well as practicing attorneys, is a fantastic and educational experience.
I have enjoyed working for Judge Pregerson and moreover, I feel better prepared to face the world as an attorney because of my experience with him. The opportunity to extern in the federal court will continue to help me in my legal career long after my externship is completed.