Spring 2020: An Intern's Perspective
- Sarah Leger
- Monday, May 4th, 2020
Ashlee Gilbert, a Criminology Major at WKU, has spent the spring interning at the County Attorney’s Office for Logan County, located in her hometown of Russellville, Ky. Gilbert has enjoyed her experience because it has given her a lot of insight for her future. One of the highlights has been watching footage from body cameras.
By watching them, we are able to discern exactly what happened at the moment of a raid or arrest, thereby making sure everyone is held accountable on all sides. It was really awesome to watch the video unedited and to be right there at the scene with the officers.
One of her roles while interning is to draft responses to citizen complaints and submit those to the County Attorney, Mr. Ross. “I still remember the very first letter I submitted to Mr. Ross that had no edits attached,” Gilbert said. “It was a great feeling to know that my writing actually sounded like a lawyer!”
COVID-19 has had an impact on some of her duties. All in-person court sessions have ceased, her office is closed to all in-person traffic, and they make sure to only have one employee and one employee on site at once. Given this circumstance, one of Gilbert’s job duties has been to convert all forms into electronic versions.
It has been really quiet in the courthouse these past few weeks, which I haven’t liked as much. I’m also not permitted to make any of my usual errands for the office, so I miss the people I used to see around town.
In the current COVID-19 environment, one Gilbert's major worries is people not having access to reliable internet. For example, court appearances for guardianship cases are done through Zoom meetings. If someone does not have access to the internet or even a computer, they cannot obtain guardianship over a loved one. Within the criminal law system, Gilbert worries that defendants will not understand their rights fully, and getting in contact with people remotely could create a barrier between defendants and attorneys for some.
In the legal field, we want things to be as fair and balanced as possible, and we certainly don’t want defendants making decisions, such as plea deals, without understanding the full extent of what they are doing.
Gilbert underscored that her Criminology internship has prepared her for her post-WKU professional life-- a benefit many students echo of such a High Impact Pedagogical Practice. “After interning at the Logan County Attorney’s Office, I am confident that when I graduate, I will be prepared for just about anything."
This experience also has led her to branch out from criminal to civil law. Gilbert plans to start out as a defense attorney or a prosecutor, and wants to open her own practice one day. “Overall, I would encourage anyone who is interested to participate in an internship. It’s a great learning experience and a good way to establish connections in your future career field!”