Brandeis Law 3L spends summer in immigration office of Department of Justice
Rising Brandeis Law 3L Marianna Michael was driving home after a final exam review and stressing about the end of the semester when she got a phone call that set the course for her summer.
The person on the other end of the call was offering Michael a position with the Department of Justice’s Summer Law Intern Program.
Michael accepted, of course, and began preparing to spend the summer in Washington, D.C. She didn’t know much about where she’d work or what she would be doing, but when she arrived, she learned she would be interning in the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer.
The office’s work is rooted in the Immigration and Nationality Act, sections 274A and 274B.
“The office is composed of an administrative law judge and his clerk, but it’s also composed of the chief administrative hearing officer and her counsel,” Michael says. “I got to work with both the clerk and the counsel. I got a lot of experience in both policy work and regular law work. I got to write orders and memos and motions and I was able to listen to pre-hearing conference calls and really see what the clerk experience was like. My last assignment was to write a decision, so I got that experience, which was very helpful.
“On the counsel to the chief administrative hearing officer side, it was a lot of policy work, really focusing on internal issues that may arise and essentially being proactive about things that may happen in the future,” she says. “I thought it was really interesting to see how they planned and to see how they made sure they were in line.”
Michael came to law school with the dream of practicing immigration law, and she’s a fellow with the Brandeis Human Rights Advocacy Program, which advocates for the rights of immigrants, noncitizens and refugees.
When she applied for the internship, President Obama was in office. By the time she accepted, President Trump had been elected. With the change in administration and expected changes to immigration policy, Michael wasn’t sure the work she would be doing that summer would align with her values.
“I was a little bit nervous about what I’d be doing. But then once I learned what I would be doing I was much more comfortable,” she says. “I was working in immigration-related employment cases. It was very code-based.”
That tie to employment law touched on another of Michael’s interests.
“I worked at private law firm last summer and fell in love with employment law,” she says. “This summer was just a really beautiful blending of both of the subject matters that I’m interested in.”
As for the government work, Michael surprised herself with how much she enjoyed it and would now consider pursuing a career in the government.
“I really like the pace. They can really take the time and make sure they got the right answer. The pressure was alleviated a little bit,” she says. “They’re doing work that they love and they know they’re doing it well.”
Michael encourages other Brandeis students to apply for summer jobs in larger markets. Even if the opportunity seems far-fetched, she has found that employers appreciate the perspective that a smaller school like Brandeis can offer.
And she encourages Brandeis students to work with the law school’s Office of Professional Development. From alerting her about the intern program to guiding her through the application process, she credits the office with helping her land the position.
“They put me in contact with people who worked with the DOJ. It was such a great experience. My fellow classmates and I were skeptical to apply because there are so few opportunities within the program, but it’s possible. I’m proof of that.
“I think I’ve gotten the best legal experience that I’ve had in my whole law school career.”