Humanities-Prelaw Student Interns with Public Defender Office

Ellie Saur is a senior at Michigan State University majoring in Humanities-Prelaw who gained experience during the Spring 2023 Semester working as an intern for the Ionia County Public Defender Office in Ionia, Michigan.

Photo of a woman (Ellie Saur) who is standing under a sign that says "Ionia County Public Defender Office."
Ellie Saur

She recently shared with the Excel Network about this internship in the following Q&A:

How did you obtain your internship?

I used Handshake to search for internship opportunities. I applied for the position and then connected with the office’s chief attorney.

What were your internship responsibilities?

I was an Office Intern responsible for assisting paralegals and attorneys in trial preparation. This included handling legal documents, scheduling appointments for clients, and attending both district and circuit court hearings.

What did your daily routine include?

The office was open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. My daily tasks included assisting the paralegals any way they needed during that time. I would contact clients to notify them of court dates and schedule appointments and update the legal system we used. I would run to the mailroom across the street in the courthouse twice each day. Additionally, I would attend hearings in both district and circuit court and would take legal notes.

What was your favorite experience from the internship?

My favorite experiences from the internship included any time I was tasked to do something random to help the team. I was also allowed access to private office information including police case reports and body cam footage. I enjoyed reading through these cases and learning about their outcomes. I recognized it as an opportunity to learn from past examples.

What skills did you learn and/or build upon during your internship?

I learned how to push past discomfort with unfamiliar tasks. I am a guilty perfectionist, so I dislike when I am new at things. I think it is a skill to trust yourself as a professional. This internship experience helped me gain confidence in my abilities.

What did you learn about your career path as a result of the internship?

I learned that there are many paths to choose from when navigating a legal career. While I may not seek to continue on in a defense office, I recognize its importance to the community.

What are your future plans?

I plan on attending law school following my graduation, aspiring to pursue a career as a JAG.

What advice do you have for other students seeking internship opportunities?

I would encourage students to research greatly and take their time selecting the internship they want to apply for. That being said, I think it is important to differentiate your experiences. By doing that, you will learn more about a variety of career paths and yourself. I would tell students to journey into the uncomfortable, as we are far more capable than we know.