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From Theory to Practice

Researching patent issues, attending depositions, and drafting motions - these tasks all sound like the actions of a full-fledged lawyer. But Anna Mayergoyz '10 has had the chance to do all of these things before she even earns her law degree, in her full-term externship with the Office of Unfair Import Investigations at the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. She is one of forty Cornell Law students each year who spend an entire semester immersed in the workings of law in the real world.

"I chose the full-term externship because I am interested in pursuing a career in intellectual property, specifically patent law," says Mayergoyz, who is working under a staff attorney on a case involving a company named Paice, which owns a patent to a hybrid drivetrain, and Toyota, which is allegedly infringing on the patent. "I had taken all the intellectual property courses offered at Cornell, and was looking for an opportunity to get first-hand experience. I've had a very up close and personal experience in each step of the litigation of this case."

"Law school tends to be pretty theoretical," says Clinical Professor of Law Glenn Galbreath, who coordinates the program. "We have clinics and local externships that provide a bridge between the study of the theory of law and the practice. In the full-term externship, students can create the ideal bridging experience they want."

Galbreath notes that the full-term externship is a rigorous experience, with each student expected not only to complete a full workload but also journals and on-line discussions throughout the semester.

Mayergoyz, who had previously done three short internships with judges, finds the full-term externship to be particularly useful to her education. "While all three experiences were very invaluable, when I compared the full to part time experience, I realized how much more substantive an experience I had when I was able to immerse myself every day in the externship."