Student Spotlight

Pedersen Gains Courtroom Insight through Internship and Conversation with U.S. District Judge D'Agostino

Olivia Pedersen ’18

By Sydney Sericolo
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Olivia Pedersen ’18 has gained invaluable experience at her summer judicial internship under Judge Mae D’Agostino, a United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York.

Pedersen worked with clerks in Judge D’Agostino’s office, all three having graduated from Albany Law School. “They are all amazing and offer good advice, not only about the cases I’m are working on for Judge D’Agostino but also which classes to take next year at Albany Law,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen worked with cases that were resolved before trial. She reviewed complaints and other submissions to the court, then drafted an opinion for the clerks to review. After Pedersen and the clerks revised the documents they ultimately were sent back to Judge D’Agostino for the final verdict.

At the U.S. District Courthouse, there are three federal judges, two magistrate judges, three to four circuit judges and one bankruptcy judge. Pedersen worked for Judge D’Agostino but she sat in on trials conducted by the other judges.

“I love sitting in on trials. Even if they aren’t Judge D’Agostino’s cases, I’m encouraged to go. I learned a lot from a recent workers discrimination case because the two attorney’s approaches were so different. Criminal cases are interesting too because they’re still so new to me. Every moment has been exciting, I love being in the courtroom,” she said.

Pederson looked forward to attending a weekly “brown bag” lunch at the courthouse where judges and attorneys talk about their experiences in an informal setting.

Pedersen said she has gained a lot from conversations with the judge. “She reflects on what just happened in the courtroom,” Pedersen said. “She makes sure the interns understand the good and bad things that each attorney did during the trial. She’s instructive and educational because she knows the law but also really cares about what makes a good lawyer.”

One thing that surprised Pedersen was the attitude of most of the attorneys. She noticed that in Albany, adverse parties in a trial are typically friendly toward each other. Prosecutors will hand documents to the defense so they can keep the trial moving forward. Pedersen believes “this may not be the case in other larger cities, but in Albany, they will likely go up against that attorney again and stand before the same judge many times, so I’ve noticed most of them try to form relationships with each other. I’ve learned it’s a huge mistake to act like the other attorney is the enemy.”

Pedersen first heard Judge D’Agostino speak at her orientation in 2015 during Albany Law’s 1L swearing in ceremony. She knew during orientation that it would be a great opportunity to work for a judge. After working hard and doing well her first year she was able to achieve this prestigious goal. She credits her teaching assistants in her Albany Law classes who urged her to apply for an internship with the judge. Pedersen is grateful for that guidance and wants to be able to do the same for the incoming 1L students as a teacher’s assistant for the course called Contracts.

Pedersen had a successful first year, which confirmed for her that Albany Law School is exactly where she is supposed to be. She hopes to become a judge’s clerk herself after graduating. As for her second year, she is looking forward to taking a medical malpractice class at Albany Law taught by Judge D’Agostino.

Olivia Pedersen