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My Legal Internship With Rosemont Alumna

Nikita Maharjan ’20 - August 20, 2019

Nikita Maharjan ’20 recollects her summer position with the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with Honorable Judge Ann Butchart ‘73


I spent my Summer 2019 as an intern with the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and the Honorable Judge Ann Butchart, a Rosemont College alumna from the Class of 1973. I had the opportunity to work with and observe the court system from the front stage and the back stage of the courts and the court system. It was a great learning experience for me that all started when I met Judge Butchart during a networking event organized by the Rosemont College Pre-Law Club, the Office of Alumni Relations, and Professor Adam Lusk . After that event, held in Main Building this past Spring, I thought, “It never hurts to ask,” so I approached Judge Butchart, who to my surprise informed me that the First Judicial District runs a program called the Summer Internship Program. She asked me to send her my resume, and by June 10 I was officially an intern.

My First Day
I was very nervous and a little scared to begin this job, as I had never worked in such a setting before. But Judge Butchart’s Chamber (her office) was very different than what I thought. Her law clerks D. Gar Bogdan and David Bigelow, secretary Holly Fry, and my co-intern Nora Tidey (Temple University Beasley School of Law) were all very nice, friendly, and understanding. For some reason, I was extra conscious about my language and accent (I am an international student from Nepal) and very hesitant to talk a lot — thinking I do not know much — but they were very encouraging whenever I needed them. (One fun fact is that I didn’t know our judge was co-chair for the internship program until I had already started my work.)

The perks of interning in the chamber of a co-chair of the program included that I got to witness all the hard work done by the law clerks, Holly, and Anna Dillon (secretary of Hon Judge Donna M. Woelpper, co-chair of internship Program) that it takes to run the program.

My Internship
During a five-week period, I was involved in 20 different activities, including attending lectures from different departments such as the Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Veterans Court; “Project Dawn”; Civil Court Discovery Program; Mental Health Court, Distract Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner; and Public Defender Chief Keir Bradford-Grey. We also made visits to the Arbitration Center, Police Academy, Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility, City Hall, Arraignment Court, Family Court, Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Philadelphia Police Department’s Marine Unit. We also had lunch with Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dougherty, Judge Butchart, and Superior Court Judge Alice Beck Dubow.

These activities worked as networking events as well. The visits and lectures were all very informative, and I personally enjoyed the lecture from Ms. Bradford-Grey and visits to Family Court, the Medical Examiner’s office, and the Marine Unit. It was also so nice and kind of Judge Butchart and the supervisors to arrange a separate tour to the Support Center for Child Advocates after I expressed my interest in child advocacy. That indeed was the best part of this internship!

I also had opportunities to meet other summer and judicial interns who are studying at various levels of law school. They shared their tips and experiences, which I think will be very helpful for me as I move forward in my studies. Every time our chamber received a case, my co-intern and I would read the facts, the dockets, the motion in limine (filed by a party to a lawsuit that asks the court for an order or ruling limiting or preventing certain evidence from being presented by the other side at the trial of the case), the responses, the memorandums, and the opinions from the judge, if any. We had opportunities to observe the discussion in the chambers about the case, the jury selection, and the trials. It was interesting to experience how the judge saw things during the trials that we did not pick up on from the witnesses or the collected evidence.

Free time was generally spent looking in on other interesting in different courtrooms. I observed homicide trials, sexual assault cases, and civil cases.

Each day provided new and different experiences, and over the course of my five weeks I enjoyed by far the most productive summer I have ever had. I am grateful for the  opportunity  to  have been  part  of the First  Judicial District and  to  meet  such supportive people who have inspired me to do more. I do hope that I get to work with them again in the future.