Jack Brock is originally from Greenville, North Carolina. He earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Chemistry and Political Science. As a 3L, Jack worked at the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as an extern.
Law students who wish to try cases during their 3L year should definitely extern at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Obtaining an externship at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office provides much more than courtroom experience. Other practical skills and experiences that are gained at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office are 1) negotiating with defense counsel, 2) case preparation, 3) interviewing witnesses, and 4) drafting and filing legal documents. This can be a fast paced job at times, and students can expect to receive a great deal of responsibility.
My own experience at New Kent was fantastic. My mentor split the docket into two; I was completely responsible for half of the criminal docket. I prepared my cases with little supervision, negotiated with defense attorneys, and made plea agreements. I tried around five or six cases in General District Court. During these trials, I made and successfully challenged objections.
An important part of this externship was learning how to think under pressure. There were times where the judge glared at me, or where my mentor stated that I could have performed better; however, I learned not to let this criticism affect me. When you are in court, it is essential to keep calm even if you made a glaring error, or if your witness freely admits a fact that is damaging to his/her credibility (and thus damaging to your case). For example, during cross examination, my witness stated that she had short term memory loss. I was appalled, and as I looked around the room, the other attorneys were laughing at me. How embarrassing, right? Wrong. I had a job to do, and I called a police officer who corroborated my witness’s testimony. We obtained a conviction. Learning how to think quickly under pressure is one of the many reasons that this experience was valuable to me and will also be valuable to any other law student considering a career in litigation.