Rising 3L Works as a Certified Legal Intern with the State Attorney's Office

Rising 3L Works as a Certified Legal Intern with the State Attorney's Office

Jason Perez 3L
By Michelle Valencia

Jason Perez 3L

Rising 3L Works as a Certified Legal Intern with the State Attorney's Office

By Michelle Valencia
Jason Perez spent the summer preparing for direct and cross-examinations, formulating plea offers, and contacting victims, giving him invaluable hands-on experience.

Rising 3L Jason Perez spent the summer as a certified legal intern in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, thanks to Miami Law's Litigation Skills Program

A certified legal intern can represent clients in and out of court on behalf of a government agency or legal aid organization and speak on the official court record if a licensed Florida attorney supervises them. The program provides the certified student with valuable real-life experience as a lawyer. Uncertified students are not allowed to represent clients in this way.

"For some time, I have had a strong motivation to work in the public interest and a fascination of our criminal justice system," said Perez. "Specifically, I have been drawn to the work criminal prosecutors do in making our communities a safer place. As a longtime resident of South Florida, it seemed only right that I do whatever I can to work at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office."

Students who complete Litigation Skills I can be placed in the six-credit externship program, which is certified by the Supreme Court of Florida to engage in the supervised practice of law. The Litigation Skills Externship Program allows students to apply the trial and pre-trial skills learned during the Litigation Skills I semester in a live client setting.

"Through the litigation skills program, I was able to secure a summer internship at the office as a certified legal intern," said Perez, who also previously worked as a legal intern for the City of Miami Beach Attorney's Office. "What the program did more than anything else was train me to be an effective litigator. The hours I spent preparing for direct- and cross-examinations and various steps of the pre-trial phase of litigation have prepared me for most of the work I have done in my internship." 

Students may represent clients in criminal and civil matters and argue cases in circuit, county, and federal courts or other tribunals under the supervision of practicing attorneys. Externs are placed locally, nationally, and internationally.

"As a CLI, I have been able to do almost all the work that regular assistant state attorneys do daily," said Perez, who received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University. "I am constantly formulating plea offers and contacting victims to get their input on how they would prefer their case to proceed. 

"Likewise, conducting mock direct examinations in class helped greatly when it came time to argue against a motion to suppress. I am confident in my ability to effectively argue on behalf of the state because of the valuable experience and education I gained through my litigation skills courses," he said.

Read more about Miami Law's Litigation Skills Program