Junior MNUDL student Amira Abukar poses in front of the Gray Plant Mooty law firm's insignia.

Junior student Amira Abukar earned tuition to debate camp, $1,000, and work experience with Gray Plant Mooty’s MNUDL Summer Fellowship.

Countless courtroom drama fans tune in to TV shows like Law and Order every day to watch fascinating cases unfold and look inside the life of an attorney. Most only get the opportunity to see it in front of a screen. One fan, Amira Abukar, junior student and debater at South High School, experienced the real deal as the 2017 Summer Fellowship intern at Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty.

Getting a glimpse into the real life of an attorney was different than Amira imagined: “When I went to a hearing I told an attorney, ‘this doesn’t look like Law and Order!’. She laughed and said, ‘A bunch of this is not like Law and Order. I figured that out the hard way!’”

During the fellowship, Amira visited multiple court hearings, assisted in research with attorneys, met judges, and more. She never knew what to expect next in her jam-packed fellowship at Gray Plant Mooty. “Every hour of every day is different. I never knew as in intern I would ever be so involved in an adult work environment,” she explains.

Gray Plant Mooty provided Amira’s summer camp registration, $1,000, and four weeks of experiential work. Amira became interested in the fellowship after her coach presented her with scholarship opportunities for MNUDL’s summer camp. “When I was looking through all the different scholarships, this one really stood out,” she states. “This one gave me a work opportunity, I got to explore the law field, and it would help me pay for debate camp. I could not pass up the opportunity to check three things off my list all in one scholarship.”

The law firm had a welcoming environment for Amira. “Everyone wants you to be involved. They want you to feel like you belong here and have a say in things. Everyone is communicating, working together and having fun,” she says.

The fellowship provides a unique opportunity to personally connect with attorneys. Attorneys told Amira personal stories about how they got into the field, their most compelling cases, and what skills to develop in high school and college for success as an attorney. “Attorneys don’t have that much time in their day and they work tirelessly ever single hour,” Amira says. “I thank the attorneys for taking time out of the day for me. They have a lot of clients and piles and piles of paperwork. Those 30 minutes or 2 hours they took to make sure I was involved really helped!”

Amira found that the research and organization skills she had already developed in debate created a successful internship experience. Those skills could continue to support her success in the future – Amira says that she might want to pursue the field of law after learning more about it during this firsthand experience.

Students interested in this diversity fellowship should check out our financial aid page to learn more about applying. Amira has some advice for the next interested student: “If you really love the law field and want to explore it, this would be the best opportunity. At Gray Plant Mooty, they make sure they answer all your questions. If you have any specific interest in the law field, they make sure to connect someone who does it with you.” She adds: “Whoever signs up is going to have a lot of fun!”

The Summer Fellowship is made possible by the Gray Plant Moody Foundation and chair of MNUDL’s advisory board Dean Eyler. Previous summer fellows have been featured on our blog: debaters Moti Benti-Novotny and Zarina Sementelli were featured here and Chris Oquist wrote about his experience here.