UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As one of five law schools participating in the Allegheny County Bar Association’s (ACBA) Summer Clerkship Program, Penn State Law hosts a representative from the ACBA annually to discuss the program on campus with the school’s first-year minority students.
Having been introduced to the clerkship program during one of the campus visits, third-year student Maria Garcia and second-year student Joseph Oliva were both selected for the program—Garcia, in 2015, and Oliva, in 2016. Both students completed their clerkship programs at Zimmer Kunz, PLLC, an independent civil litigation firm in Pittsburgh specializing in commercial and personal matters, and both were asked back to the firm the following summer for internships outside of the ACBA program. Garcia completed her second summer in 2016, while Oliva will return in 2017.
Both students valued their time at Zimmer Kunz and exceled in their work at the firm. For Oliva, knowing that he wants to pursue litigation opportunities, the clerkship was a great way to gain critical experience. He took part in such work as writing a partial motion for summary judgement, helping to write an article on mandatory reporting laws, and drafting complaints.
“Going in as a 1L, you don’t necessarily have a lot of practical knowledge,” said Oliva, “but my writing was always top line. Professor Vollmer’s class really prepared me for that.”
Garcia wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do after law school, but through her time at Zimmer Kunz, has discovered that she loves litigation. One of the highlights of her time at the firm was going to trial and being able to see a case the entire way through the legal process.
“Going into a firm like this as a law student can be really scary,” she said. “The team at Zimmer Kunz really had a lot of confidence in me, though, allowing me to interview clients and work on cases from the start.”
Both students agree that the feedback their supervisors provided to them throughout their time at the firm was constructive and continuous, and will help to shape their future legal careers.
“They care about making you a better attorney,” said Oliva.
In addition to work experience, the ACBA Summer Clerkship Program includes talks and events outside of the office, which Garcia and Oliva were encouraged to attend. These programs gave valuable insight on several aspects of a legal career, including tips about professionalism, talks about diversity, and the importance of networking. The ACBA Summer Clerkship Program is open to any first-year, self-identifying minority law student from an eligible law school.