A passion for immigration law and a successful placement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s entry-level recruitment program have combined to create an incredible opportunity for a third-year Whittier Law School student.
Victoria Sypniewski has secured a position with the Executive Office of Immigration Review as a Judicial Clerk for the Chief Immigration Judge in the Houston Immigration Court.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to clerk for a judge,” she says. “I’ve done just about everything else except that during my law school career. I really look forward to working with immigration cases.”
Sypniewski earned her position through the U.S. Attorney General’s Honors Program. Her role will focus heavily on writing and research, due to the constantly evolving nature of immigration law. She’ll also have additional responsibility for assisting the judge in all aspects of a case.
“No two cases are the same, and it gives me the opportunity to be exposed to different people and situations,” she says. “It’s an exciting field in general because the law changes so frequently.”
After she passes the bar, Sypniewski’s title will officially change to Attorney Advisor to the Chief Immigration Judge. She says the journey to her upcoming role at the Department of Justice began at Whittier Law School.
“I came into law school knowing I wanted to work for the government and do something that makes a difference to my community,” she says. “Whittier doesn’t just teach you the law—it prepares you with first-hand experience, and that alone is the most valuable asset you can have.”
That first-hand experience, Sypniewski says, came through practical classes that teach students how to work in real environments.
She recalls her Criminal Trial Advocacy course, which gave her and her classmates the opportunity to experience what it’s really like be a lawyer by practicing oral advocacy and put on their own trial. She credits that class with putting her at an advantage in her externships, especially when it came time to argue motions. Other experiences like the Trial Advocacy Honors Board, she says, helped her immeasurably with learning evidence—something beneficial in any court setting.
“There is so much more to being a lawyer than just knowing a casebook in and out,” Sypniewski says. “Whittier focuses on teaching you the law and teaching you to be a lawyer.”
She also credits the school’s Office of Career and Professional Development with much of her success. Knowing before she started law school that she wanted to pursue public interest work allowed CPD to help her formulate a plan to get there.
She spent three semesters with the Orange County District Attorney, a semester working for the Anaheim City Attorney, and landed a summer internship with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division—all thanks to the resources available through CPD.
“I firmly believe this work experience—on top of the hands-on learning available to us at Whittier—helped me secure this post-graduate position,” she says.
Although her time at Whittier is coming to an end, Sypniewski is mindful of the formative experience law school has been for her and the role it will undoubtedly continue to play throughout the rest of her career.
“I don’t think I would be in the position I am today without Whittier Law School,” she says. “It has been such an amazing experience to be part of a school that helps you grow into the person and attorney you’ve always wanted to be.”
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