A day in the life of a legal intern in Washington D.C

Published on 17 January 2023

Chosen for an internship through the Saltire Scholars programme by Entrepreneurial Scotland, Matthew Gibson-Smith had the opportunity to experience life in an American law firm.

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I can still remember the feeling of disbelief when I received the phone call from Entrepreneurial Scotland telling me that I was going to spend my summer in Washington D.C. This was such a daunting yet exciting opportunity, and I could not wait for it to begin.

Fast forward 6 months and I am working at Miles and Stockbridge, a regional sized commercial firm based in D.C, Maryland, and Virginia. I am surrounded by a team who represent individuals in state, inter state and international family and child law cases and are experts on the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Adapting to the fast-paced working environment of 9-5 in Washington D.C. was a big step up from normal university lifestyle. I was living in my own apartment, in a city that I had never been to, and surrounded by a completely different culture filled with completely different people. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to gain commercial insight, but also to travel and explore an emblematic city of the world. It was a perfect induction into the post-university lifestyle.

A typical day would consist of me waking up and quickly getting my stuff together, before running for my bus. I would arrive in the office at about 9am, and quickly get started on the tasks I had been given. These tasks consisted of researching case law, drafting memos, drafting letters, organising mediation documents, and attending meetings. My internship was very much designed to be a “get a taste of what it is like to work in an American law firm” and I relished this opportunity.

Outside of this usual practice, I also got the opportunity to visit the supreme court to see some important cases. At the time, Steve Bannon was on trial for criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring his subpoena from the capital attack committee. Also, Roe v Wade was overturned by the supreme court as I arrived, so seeing the protests around the city was a unique experience.

Overall, this experience was a fantastic opportunity that I would recommend all students to apply for. A massive thank you to the Saltire Scholars programme by Entrepreneurial Scotland for making this happen. More information on this programme is available on the Entrepreneurial Scotland website.

Also, a massive thank you to Dundee University for all their support as I continue my law degree. They have provided me with a fantastic opportunity to reach further heights in my career. It is brilliant and unique place to study, and I could not recommend it more.

Matthew Gibson-Smith

People standing outside of a restaurant in America, holding the American flag.

Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Student testimonial