Assisting at the State’s Attorney’s Office

Name: Mathilde

Year: Junior

Majors: Political Science

CFS Program: Field Studies in Social Justice

Employer: State’s Attorney’s Office


Since the very beginning, I knew I wanted to do an internship in the social justice track of CFS. Indeed, my past experiences in NGOs and my future plans to be involved in the implantation of social justice led me to this choice. At the same time, I wanted to get a proper experience in the law field as I am considering entering law school to become a lawyer. Clearly, Chicago Field Study had everything I was looking for. So, I applied to a list of internships offering both an experience of social justice and legal work. The State’s Attorney’s Office made me fill a law clerk application my counselor helped me fill out. Through this, I realized the diversity of mission they have and this made me want to get involved into a state administration system. After that, I had a quick interview and hopefully got in ! After a chat with the advisor, he decided to put me into the Juvenile Justice Bureau of the Cook County which is divided in two: The Child Protection Division, which reviews and prosecutes cases in which children are alleged to be abused, neglected or dependent; and the Delinquency Division, which reviews and prosecutes offenses committed by juveniles. I am currently working with two Assistant State’s Attorneys on the Child Protection Division and I am very happy about it. As mentioned on the State’s Attorney’s website ‘The Child Protection Division screens, files and prosecutes civil cases in which minors under the age of 18 are alleged to be abused or neglected because of the action or inaction of the adults who are their parents or caretakers, or are dependent because they are without a parent or caretaker. In certain cases, we may seek to terminate parental rights when it is in the best interests of the children.’

Even after only a month, I can say I have had a large overview of the job of an Attorney. On a typical day, I would attend hearings on the morning. In the Court, I encounter various actors, being the judge, the defensors, social workers, families and social families. There, they discuss current cases and hopefully give a sentence. Then, I get to do typical legal paperwork, from making copies to pulling the calls. It might not seem that exciting, but I feel useful and I know every copy I make helps one of the two attorneys I work for. Moreover, the thing I like to do the most is when they offer me to delve deeper into a case and make a timeline or read through medical records. I find myself being part of the process and really getting involved through substantial work.

Alongside my internship, I am enrolled in the Social Justice class. First, I find it very interesting to be in contact with other students currently doing an internship. We get to share our feelings and experiences and I learn a lot through my classmates. Second, I find it so enlightening to have a teacher who is both a researcher and a professional. She has a lot to bring us and uses diverse resources to teach us about social justice issues. The readings and the discussion are interesting, being an international student, I am learning a lot!

My internship ‘met’ my class experience when I had to conduct an interview of my co-worker as a project. For that, I interviewed one of the two attorneys I work with. I really like doing such a project because it led me to have a deeper conversation with my co-worker. I learnt about their career and feelings about their job. It was also a way to concretely apply the concepts learnt in class. This was a great way to link my professional and academicals experience of the quarter.

To put it in a nutshell, the CFS is an experience of both challenges and successes. As an international, English is not my first language and I find it challenging to comprehend everything that is going on in a court room. Indeed, the vocabulary and terminology of the legal field is very specific and it took me some time to get used to it. On the other hand, it is a very rewarding experience to actually be able to involved in the process of the justice system. At the end of the day, CFS is a very fulfilling experience which makes me learn a lot about my expectations, my projects and myself.