University of New Mexico School of Law Student Interned in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this Fall for Judge Jimmie V. Reyna
December 8, 2020
This fall, third-year law student Ambrose Kupfer participated in the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Semester in D.C. Program virtually. The Program, first started in 2012, allows six law students to live and work in Washington D.C. for a full semester under the guidance of a law professor who oversees their intern placements and conducts a weekly seminar. Ambrose was selected as one of the six students who would go to D.C. this fall, but unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the in-person aspect of the program had to be suspended. Although Ambrose did not get to go in person, he was still able to work in D.C. virtually. Before the pandemic Ambrose was offered the incredible opportunity to intern in the chambers of Federal Circuit Judge Jimmie V. Reyna, who is a UNM Law alumnus himself.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas including international trade, government contracts, and federal benefit claims with about 67% of the court’s docket being made up of intellectual property cases. Appeals can come from any of the 94 federal district courts or various specialty courts. Like many businesses and government entities, the Federal Circuit adapted to the pandemic by moving virtual. With Judge Reyna’s chambers still being 100% virtual this fall, he offered Ambrose a full-time internship in his chambers working remotely. With UNM’s side of the D.C. program being suspended, it was difficult to open the program back up for just one student, but thanks to Vice-Dean Carey and Bonnie Stapleton Ambrose was able to become the sole participant in the D.C. program this year.
As a student who is very interested in the judiciary, working for Judge Reyna was a dream come true for Mr. Kupfer. When asked about the experience, Ambrose said that he “benefitted from this experience immensely. Of course, my research and writing abilities have grown exponentially, but this experience helped me grow in other ways as well.” One thing the D.C. program committee feared is that Ambrose would not receive the quality mentorship and connection many other in person participants have received over the years. However, Ambrose said that “Judge Reyna and his law clerks have all been great mentors during my time in his chambers and I really felt like I was part of a team during this internship. Judge Reyna’s clerks were genuinely interested in giving us a great experience and helping us succeed in our careers, encouraging us to reach out if we ever need anything in the future. As a circuit judge, Judge Reyna is very busy, but he still took the time to correspond with his interns frequently and even call us from time to time.”
Working in the chambers of a circuit judge was surely challenging for Mr. Kupfer. When asked about the workload, Ambrose said that “this was one of the hardest semesters I have had so far, but I have learned so much in the process. Judge Reyna has a very robust internship program culminating in a research project which you present on at the end of the program.” Judge Reyna has taken many interns in the past from UNM as a part of this program, but Ambrose is the first to do so remotely from Albuquerque and hopes more students work for Judge Reyna in the future; whether that be in person or remotely. When asked about what he took away from this experience, Ambrose said “I cannot thank Judge Reyna and his staff for giving me such a great experience, even during the coronavirus pandemic. This internship is something that I will remember for years to come.”