Career Profiles

Danielle Boyd ‘16

Legal Extern, Fourth District Court of Appeals, Division Three, in Santa Ana, CA


Danielle Boyd ‘16

Where did you extern?
My externship was at the Fourth District Court of Appeals, Division Three, in Santa Ana, CA. I worked for Justice William W. Bedsworth and his research attorney, Todd Vukson, Esq.

What did you do during your externship? Can you give an example of a project you worked on?
I drafted memoranda and conducted legal research for approximately six opinions. When I had a little time to spare, I also watched oral arguments which usually fall at the end of the month and last a full week.

I only can give examples of cases where the final appellate opinion is available to the public. Unfortunately, only one of the eight cases I worked on has been made available, thus, I can only discuss the Wende case. A Wende case allows the court to appoint appellate counsel, and said counsel reviews the petition and record below. The appellate counsel then writes a Wende brief, stating that he or she was unable to find any meritorious issues for appellant’s opening brief. Sometimes, the appellate counsel may raise some “potential” issues for the court to consider, and the court may request supplemental briefing on those issues. The Wende case I worked on involved these issues: denial of a motion to modify a restitution order, whether there was jurisdiction to hear the 20-year-old case, whether the doctrine of laches applied, and whether another doctrine called coram nobis applied. I had to review the record on this Wende case, research the potential issues to see if any were meritorious, and draft a memorandum.

What excited you the most about the position?
I was excited to work at the appellate level, especially on criminal law cases.

How did you learn about the position?
After speaking with fellow law review students who had a positive and rewarding experience working for a Judge or Justice, I went to the Externship Office and I picked up the Judicial Externship packet. I started working on my applications right away.

How did your education and experience here at Whittier Law prepare you for your externship?
I believe many factors helped me at my externship: the first-year legal writing class, being on law review, (which helped me become a concise writer, gain research skills, and learn how to use footnotes), taking Judge Meyer’s Trial Advocacy class (where I learned a little more about the dynamics of how a judge makes a ruling and how litigants can create a record for appeal), and finally, externing at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (where I made appearances in court and meet a couple of judges).

What advice do you have for other students thinking about externing for the judiciary?
You need to have strong research, writing, and analytical skills. Sometimes, I would get an assignment and I did not know anything about the issue. In those assignments, I made sure I researched the “background” of the issue and how courts have interpreted the issue over a span of time. In addition, I suggest not rushing your assignments. Superb work takes time, dedication, and editing. Always proofread and edit before you turn in your final draft.

Judicial externships generally have a higher requirement for hours, so keep this in mind if you want to do an externship over fall or spring semester. I worked approximately 18 hours to 20 hours during this past semester. If I could go back, I would have externed over summer because it was a challenge to balance school, commitments, and work during this past semester. Overall, it was a rewarding experience!