Q & A with: Xin “Florence” Zhang (LLM ’10)

Photo of Florence with fellow interns and supervisor

Florence (third from left) poses with her fellow interns and supervisor.

Just days after graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law’s LL.M. Program on May 17, 2010, Xin “Florence” Zhang from China left Winston-Salem to start working as a summer intern in New York.  We wanted to catch up with Florence about her internship and plans after the summer.

1. What are you doing over the summer?

I am interning with the Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Trial Office in Queens, New York.

2. How did you find this internship?

Holly, the Coordinator of the LL.M. Program, sent us an email with the contact information of a Wake Law JD graduate who works in this office. I contacted her, sent my cover letter and resume to the person in charge, was interviewed by the supervisor of this office, and then got the internship. The interview went on for almost an hour but mostly we talked about music!

3. What are your work hours?

I work from 9 AM till 5 PM from Monday to Friday each week. I usually come early because I need to get my hands on what I need to do during the day. It’s not uncommon that I have to leave later than 5 in the afternoon because the trials or client interviews might last longer than planned.

4. What kind of work do you do in a given day?

All kinds of work! I am working with the Tuesday day team. Our team picks up whatever child protective cases are filed on Tuesdays. I am in charge of writing case digests for the attorneys on my team. Whenever a case raises an issue the answer to which is not clearly given by statutes or case law, I will be assigned to research on that issue and prepare a memorandum based on the research. Sometimes, I need to talk with the case workers from the Administration of Children’s Service, the foster parents, our clients, and their parents or other people legally responsible for our clients. Since I can speak Mandarin and there is an increasing case load involving Chinese immigrants who cannot speak English, I have done several client interviews with the attorneys (not only on my team, but other attorneys who have Chinese clients), acting as an interpreter. Besides all the above, I frequently go to court to observe trials and conferences.

5. What’s the most interesting part of your internship?

Definitely the court part! I would love to be a trial lawyer, at least for part of my career. I can learn how lawyers talk to the judges, how they question the witnesses and how they communicate with their clients and other attorneys. Also, often something unexpected happens during the trial.  Sometimes what happens is really dramatic, which makes the court experience even more interesting.

6. Do you work with other interns?  If so, are they Americans or internationals?

Not really, but we are good friends and often help each other out with research and go to trials together. They are all Americans, all New Yorkers actually. I am the only international in the office. However, people in the Legal Aid are generally really nice and patient. I don’t feel like an alien.

7. Do you think your LL.M. degree has helped you perform better in your internship?

Definitely!  Without doing this degree, I wouldn’t be able to do what one of the attorney said “fabulous researches,” or write a memo within one or two days.

8. How does NY differ from Winston-Salem?

It’s another world! It’s very fast-paced and there’s always something going on! Actually there are so many things that I should do in New York that I don’t think I can finish all of them during two months! I really like to go to the free concerts in Central Park, or watch a show in either Broadway or the Metropolitan Opera House. I haven’t got a chance to go to the Carnegie Hall, or the Kenny Hall yet! I think I will come back for that a different time. If the weather is nice, I like to walk around, to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Central Park, the Fifth Ave … My favorite place to hide from the heat is the main library bear Bryant Park. It’s magnificent! I like to read there for the whole Saturday!

9. What do you miss most about W-S?

The tranquility and the personal space! New York is noisy and crowded! People here are always hasty which leads to rudeness sometimes. I miss the nice smiles I could see everyday on people’s faces! I also miss the clean air and the greens!

10. What’s next after your internship ends?

If everything goes on smoothly, I will go to DC to intern with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I am kind of excited to go there already.