From my view: Behind the scenes at a paralegal internship
Mark Turberville was one of the first paralegal interns ever to work at the Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor’s Office. Using what he learned in his classes, he quickly proved that a good paralegal can be indispensable.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Mark Turberville graduated in May 2018 with a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies. He came to the program after a career in the military and in industrial safety, and he brought with him a keen drive to learn more about criminal law. His internship at the Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor’s Office gave him a deep dive into the inner workings of Anchorage’s criminal courts.
Here’s what Turberville’s internship experience was like, from his perspective.
“I was really interested in criminal law, and I was able to get a paralegal internship with the Municipal Prosecutor’s Office, together with another student from the certificate program. Here was a chance for real legal work, and it was in a field that I enjoy.
"But the municipal prosecutor’s office had never had a paralegal before, and the attorneys weren’t familiar with what we were able to do. The first day, one attorney came by and said, ‘I’ve got this legal question that I’m trying to research, and I can’t find any good cases to support my argument. If you have time, would you mind maybe helping me with the research?’ And I said ‘Absolutely—that’s what we’re here for. This is great!’
"So I did the research for her, then put my analysis into a legal memo, which I’d learned how to write in Professor Periman’s research and writing class [part of the certificate program]. I gave it back to the attorney and she was just stunned—she thought it was great. I said, ‘Tell everybody—if you need this kind of work, if you need research, we can do it. We’re good at it!’
"That opened the flood gates—we started getting a lot more requests from different prosecutors to help them research cases and analyze legal questions.
"We were able to go to court, too, and that was enthralling—to be able to help a prosecutor prepare for a case, then go with her while she selects her jury, observe the jury and talk over strategy with her. We were involved in everything from preparing witnesses to testify, to drafting up motions for filing in court. We were able to follow these cases all the way through the verdict.
"The whole process was just fascinating. The municipal prosecutor’s office was a tremendous place for an internship, and a fabulous opportunity to get practical experience—for me, and for anybody who’s interested in criminal law.”