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At the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the summer of 2011 will be remembered as the season of the University of New Mexico School of Law interns. Eight UNM law students, double the number of interns usually budgeted for the office, worked alongside assistant AGs in nearly every division of the office, benefiting both the students and lawyers.
“We had a very good summer,” said Al Lama, chief deputy attorney general, who oversaw the program. “We gave the students the opportunity to explore the variety of work we do.”
The students were: Shelby Carlson (`12), Jesse Hale (`13), Keith Herrmann (`13), Charles Kraft (`13), Rebecca Ann Ralph (`12), Quiana Salazar-King (`13), Jacob Streeter (`13) and Taylor Watrous (`12). Two additional law students from other schools also interned with the office.
Under direct supervision, they assisted with legal research and writing and performed duties unique to the divisions they worked in. For example, in the criminal division, the students assisted prosecutors in preparation for trial or indictment; in the consumer division, they worked on the discovery phase of litigation; in the civil division, students were exposed to the office’s administrative process and its role as legal adviser on state boards and commissions; in the Internet crimes against children unit, they assisted in the preparation for a grand jury or trial.
“Our resources continue to shrink while our workload increases, and the interns were able to pitch in at various stages of cases we are working on,” said Lama. “The students’ enthusiasm and interest in public service was also invigorating to our lawyers and recharged their batteries.”
Salazar-King spent most of the summer with the Consumer Protection Division, where the highlight for her was the challenge of working on a case in the division’s consumer immigrant services unit.
“Working on practical legal issues helped solidify many of the ephemeral academic exercises of law school,” she said. “Moreover, the mentorship and guidance of the attorneys in the Consumer Protection Division was invaluable to my educational experience, both personally and professionally.”
Her classmate, Streeter, requested assignment to the Consumer Protection Division, and he felt most rewarded for his work on an immigration issue.
“The highlight of the summer was participating in a joint effort with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in an effort to shut down illegal `immigration consultants’, who are engaged in the unauthorized practice of immigration law,” he said. “The Attorney General's Office is leading the way in prosecuting these businesses, which tend to prey on desperate and powerless New Mexico consumers.”
Lama was impressed with the legal skills the students brought to the office and their willingness to “hit the ground running.” By summer’s end, they were even more proficient, he noted.
“This group was very impressive,” he said. “In addition to their daily workload, I think they learned about what an AG actually does and what we don’t do, and they learned a lot about how state government runs and the role of a lawyer in state government.
September 21, 2011