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Portrait of Luke Opyd

Luke Opyd interns at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, & Shah

I had the opportunity to work as a Labor and Employment Legal intern for Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, & Shah which is a midsize law firm specializing in various areas of the law.  The best experience I had while interning was when my office went to trial in a multi-million-dollar class action lawsuit.  It gave me an understanding about how full-throttle work is during trial. It takes months, perhaps even years, before a case makes it to trial, and the workload is so huge leading up to trial.  Once you get to trial and as the trial moves along, the scenario can change in an instant, demanding that the team’s strategy change.  It is intense and you don’t get much sleep but it is so much fun!  (Especially when you win!).

My ILR courses prepared me effectively to succeed at this internship. For instance, Argumentation and Debate was great because it made me realize that a person can successfully advocate for something even if it is something they don’t necessarily believe in.  Law is about truth seeking via cooperation between both sides of the trial.  Debates are the same in the sense that the purpose is for each party to focus solely on their side of the argument and then present the most accurate facet of that argument.  It is for the judge and jury to decide which argument is most correct.  Also, Law and Society was a great class that compares and contrasts the jurisprudential side of the law and the societal view of the law.  This is very important to understand as a lawyer because, while your side of the argument might be the “morally correct” one, it may not be “legally correct” one.  Especially if it is a bench trial (trial with no jury), it would be important to recognize that the moral appeal typically isn’t valued as much as the legal appeal.

Apart from connecting my academic background with the real-world, this internship solidified my plans to go to law school and commit my life to the profession. I discovered that I am more than capable and intelligent enough to do good work as an attorney. Because it was a challenging internship that helped me learn so much, my confidence level and writing abilities have significantly improved.  Since it was one of the best experiences of my professional life, I’m planning on going back to SFMS.  When my wife graduates a year later (also an ILRie), I’ll be headed to law school.

The Credit Internship Program is perfect for students who feel they need more exposure than just a summer to better understand their professional interests.  As an older, non-traditional student, I’ve seen many folks in careers that they can’t stand, or they bounce from job to job because they can’t find their right “fit.”  The Credit Internship Program eliminates the risk of not knowing what to expect when you graduate. I truly think ALL students should participate in the Credit Internship Program.  It helps you so much with career development, and gives you insight on things to come.