Adam Gilroy 12/6/13 Personal Reflection to Summer Internship Over the course of the fifteen week fall semester, I worked with my father, John F. Gilroy, III, at his private law practice. I was able to utilize my skills as an editor and writer that I have acquired throughout my time as an Editing, Writing and Media major in Florida Stateâ€™s College of English. The internship was multi-faceted as it focused on topics ranging from extremely legal and professional to creative and open for interpretation. My duties were also varied in that they required me not only to write and edit but also to work as an office assistant. My internship took place at John F. Gilroy, III, P.A. in Tallahassee, Florida. My father is a graduate of Florida State Law School and has lived and worked in Tallahassee since he graduated in 1984. He started with The Agency of Health Care Administration for the state of Florida where he served as Chief Attorney for Health Care Facilities Regulation. This practice, formed in 2002, specializes in health and administrative law and also does business with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT), manufacturers and brewers, wholesale alcoholic beverage distributors and retail vendors in matters of beverage law enforcement and policy development. A large majority of our clients are in the field of assisted living and often require the services of our firm to contest issues brought upon them by various state agencies. The implications of this work are very great as peopleâ€™s livelihoods and sometimes lives themselves are often in the balance. My duties included, but were not limited to: editing legal correspondence letters, researching topics of professional interest using credible sources and writing summaries on these topics, and representing the firm in a professional manner with those who I interacted with. I was required to report to the office each day on time and dressed accordingly. I was responsible not only for my editing and writing requirements but also acted as an assistant and runner. I drove documents to various governmental agencies and private offices for timely filing. I was responsible for scanning, faxing and emailing correspondence with these offices. I also sat at the desk at the front of the office and greeted people who entered our office. I do feel that my duties evolved from those explicitly stated on the contract as the internship evolved day-to-day and week-to-week. While my most valuable and important involvement during the internship was that of an editor and a writer, I did not take lightly my responsibilities for maintaining a stable work environment and representing our firm to clients and guests who would visit our offices. I felt my skills as an editor were useful and valuable to the practice. Editing legal documents was different than editing the papers of my peers or any editing exercise that I had previously completed for a class. The style presented to me while working at the law firm presented many challenges that I had to overcome. My father worked closely with me during the first few weeks to make sure I had a basic grasp on some of the concepts regarding format and style that I would encounter over the course of the fifteen week internship. Legal documents contain stylistic elements and nuances that are different than those of prose, essays etc. I was mainly line editing for errors in punctuation and consistency as opposed to the first or second draft of a peerâ€™s paper which is edited on a broader scale. This was rewarding because finding errors in these documents meant I was
providing a very necessary alteration to a document that would ultimately reflect on the firm. Some of these letters were correspondence with clients and other law firms and other documents were reviewed by me before being filed with governmental agencies. The writing portion of the internship included researching topics through the use of the internet and online databases. After extensively researching the topic, I was required to write a short summary of what I had discovered to be presented. This utilized my skills both as a writer and researcher, and I found this to be very fun and rewarding. The first topic was mainly concerned with the implementation and history of the Florida Sunshine Law concerning public records and open meetings. Florida has laws in place which allow unfettered access to public records and meetings unless the Florida Legislature deems them unfit for pubic distribution. These exemptions are almost exclusively for documents that could put a party in eminent danger or invade their privacy. Our law firm has several clients in a position to utilize these public records laws, so this research was mainly geared toward understanding more about that aspect of our business in the hopes of attracting more clients as well as being able to better serve existing ones. During the course of my research I discovered many pieces of information that were useful to my father, his clients and even me and my peers. To know that Florida citizens have the legal right to access a wealth of information was interesting and helpful for the future. At the end of my research and work I was able to correctly file a public records request and did so several times. The topic of my writing songs and poetry was one of more personal interest to my father. He asked me to create a collection of songs and then write the songs down and be able to take my experiences as an editor and apply them to a creative field that I have participated in for many years. He wanted to utilize my skills as a researcher that I had displayed in the Sunshine Law portion of the internship to learn more about a topic that interested both him and me. My biggest weaknesses throughout the course of the internship experience included my lack of knowledge of legal style and the nuances associated with documents that would be filed at governmental agencies. These documents have a complex system of punctuation and capitalization/non-capitalization that I had to quickly become familiar with in order to serve as an effective editor for the firm. My strengths during the internship included my ability to be personable and polite to the people with whom I interacted, my work ethic when showing up on time and prepared to work and my abilities as a writer and editor that Iâ€™ve learned as an Editing, Writing and Media major at Florida State. I also was required to be self motivated because of the nature of the internship where I was given a set amount of time with which to complete each task but was not monitored constantly. I was also able to multi-task and still be effective at each duty presented. At some points in the internship I would be doing research when a fax came in that had to be copied and delivered to an office. I also was responsible for keeping office supplies stocked and the front desk tidy while simultaneously completing my editing and writing tasks. I would recommend to any student of English, especially those interested in pursuing law school after graduation, to complete their internship at a law firm. I did not realize before working here how much the skills of a lawyer can be dependant on his or her ability to properly write and edit. My father was required to write, draft and rewrite on an almost daily basis. These written works included items as small as e-mails between
clients and agencies all the way up to briefs that were twenty or more pages in length. Most of what was written by him and edited by me were motions and petitions which move cases along on their path. While the job may not have as much creative license as a novelist or journalist, lawyers are no doubt writers. The job can teach you valuable skills as a writer because each word must be carefully chosen and extra fluff is not acceptable in a legal setting much like with any other written work. Something else I learned about legal writing was the frequency with which a lawyer must write based off a template of sorts. Many documents, petitions, motions, etc. in the legal field are written based on a formula where certain pieces of information and format must be included in order for the document to be considered proper. The law profession also requires people skills which was a pleasantly surprising aspect of the internship. Trust between a lawyer and client is extremely important, and lawyers must be able to be trusted by and be able to communicate with their clients in order to do their job in the most effective way possible. Although I did not participate in this intimate form of communication, I did witness his abilities and learn from them. I also had to opportunity to greet clients. I would make sure they were comfortable. I would offer them all the essential elements of being able to get some work done such as a seat with good lighting, wifi information or maybe just a drink or snack. While some students may like to be at their desk all day uninterrupted, being responsible for visiting with people gave me some time to work on my intra-personal skills. I reflect on my internship over the past fifteen weeks of my final semester of college fondly. Being able to work alongside my father to contribute to our family business while simultaneously earning school credit was an experience I was lucky to have, but any law firm would have been a great place to earn the credit. Being able to learn about the Florida Sunshine Law was fascinating and eye opening because, although I have been a citizen of this state for my entire life, I had never peeled back the curtain to understand how many rights I as a citizen have to access public documents and attend meetings of agencies at all levels of government. I also am grateful for the time I was able to spend working critically on a creative work that counter-balanced the nature of the office work. To be able to take the same work ethic and analytical eye needed to edit legal documents and apply them to works of poetry was very rewarding. I could feel my work growing and growing as I edited and reworked the poetry. I look forward to being able to boast this internship on my resume as well as simply apply the skills I learned here in order to excel at my next opportunity. The job was challenging, rewarding and certainly utilized the skills weâ€™re taught as Editing, Writing and Media majors. My responsibilities included writing, editing and interacting with clients and visitors as well as managerial tasks. My weaknesses were mainly concentrated at the beginning of the internship when I was required to learn to edit a new style of writing that included stylistic elements that I had been previously unfamiliar with. I felt that my strengths of being able to point out inconsistencies in language and usage, being able to write and edit a concise summary of a topic of importance and being able to interact with people on a personal level far outweighed those weaknesses. I consider myself lucky to have earned my internship in a law office and I will take the skills learned with me throughout my career in editing, writing and media.
Published on Dec 5, 2013