Career Profiles

Nick Barthel ‘17

Intern, Orange County Counsel, Appellate Division


Nick Barthel ‘17

What is your job/internship title, and place of work?
I worked as an intern at Orange County Counsel in the Appellate Division.

What were your responsibilities?
My position held many responsibilities. I reviewed thousands of pages of case files that consisted of social worker reports and court minute proceedings. I placed tabs on the important pages so that the attorneys could easily find the relevant parts of the large case files. I also drafted entire Factual Summary sections of the appellate briefs. In order to do this, I had to review all the social worker reports and summarize the information into a persuasive story. Because this persuasive story would be the first impression that the judge would get of the case, the succinctness and clarity of my summaries were very important. These appellate briefs were presented and sometimes argued before the 4th District Court of Appeals.

What excited you most about the job?
What excited me the most was the fact that the words I wrote were being read by three 4th District Court judges. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I enjoyed representing social workers and defending their position that parents’ rights should be terminated because these parents had been neglectful and sometimes even abusive to their children.

How did you find the position?
I am a fellow for the Center for Children and Families, and our Director, Professor Mertus, emailed all of the fellows and told us about the opportunity. Professor Mertus communicated my interest to the department. They set up an interview, and the rest is history.

How did your education and experience at Whittier Law School prepare you for this position?
Lawyering Skills 2 was a perfect course to have before this internship. In LS2 I learned how to write persuasively and how to write a Factual Summary section that only contained purely relevant facts. Also, the great people at Career Development helped me with my cover letter and taught me how to present myself in an interview. These interview skills were essential to ultimately being offered the position.

What advice do you have for other students thinking about externing for this employer or going into this field of practice?
The best advice I can give to people looking for work in this area is to make sure they have a passion for it. This is a field full of passionate people who do great work. It is very important to have a great attitude, as the amazingly kind people you would be working with are consistently overworked.

Moreover, if they want to land a position with the office, I recommend volunteering to work in juvenile dependency. It was a blessing working there and I hope that everyone can have the same experience as I did.