Externship Programs Lead to Careers

Local, national and international opportunities abound with course credits.
Externship Programs Lead to Careers
Andrew Graykowski, J.D. '22, Ted Massey, J.D. '11, and Jess Chiasson, 3L

Andrew Graykowski, J.D. '22, and third-year Jess Chiasson’s externships in Washington, D.C. at the Department of Defense springboarded their career interests in legal defense. In 2022, they worked on cases under the supervision of Miami Law alumnus Theodore "Ted" Massey, J.D. '11, as part of the Military Commissions Defense Organization working with Guantanamo detainees. 

Chiasson recently returned from an observation trip to Guantanamo, and Graykowski began his job at the Department of Homeland Security this fall.

"Working with this team was the highlight of my law school experience," said Chiasson. "The caliber of legal expertise on the team is unlike anything I had ever experienced – it was akin to enrolling in a masterclass for legal defense. 

"Over the course of a single semester, I grew exponentially in my research and writing skills while developing the confidence to tackle more complex legal concepts. Seeing my work incorporated into motions and live discussions gave me a sense of responsibility and ownership that is hard to achieve in law school. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for the trust placed in me to be a part of the team. Without a doubt, I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my legal career. I owe a lot to Major Massey for the opportunity to pursue my passion for human rights work and for his mentorship throughout the program," said Chiasson.

"Working at the Military Commissions was an experience I'll remember the rest of my life," said Graykowski. "Major Massey and the rest of the team gave us the responsibilities of a real attorney and as much advice, guidance, and feedback as we needed. The team helped us face unique legal issues that would be tough for any attorney. The externship program helped immensely in job interviews and prepared me well for my upcoming employment."

Massey was a senior defense counsel on the September 11th case involving five alleged 9/11 plotters, though he has since transitioned to a different role outside of MCDO,

"Our legal team would typically take on two legal interns during the fall and spring semesters and summer to work on our Capital litigation case," said Massey. "I reached out to the externship department to explain the opening on our legal team (known as "Team AAA"). During the spring semester, about 14 students applied for our externship position. Out of the two positions, Jess Chiasson and Andrew Graykowski were selected and excelled. Our legal team consisted of civilians and active-duty military; we were technically working for the DoD, but our job was to represent Ammar zealously. Jess and Andrew obtained security clearances and worked in a sensitive compartmentalized information facility (a fancy name for an office where we can look at government classified information). They helped us work with over a million pages of discovery in order to represent Mr. al Baluchi."

"This is another wonderful example of alumni reaching back and lifting our current students," said Jessi Tamayo, former director of the externship program.

Hands-on training

Miami Law offers several opportunities to do real-world externships for course credit, including the D.C. Semester in Practice Program, which allows law students to live and work full time in the United States capital working at government agencies, nonprofits, or advocacy organizations while still enrolled full-time at Miami Law. The expanded Miami Law Externship Program offers national and international externships with corporations, government agencies, public interest organizations, and the judiciary. The Litigation Skills CLI Externship Program allows students to apply the trial and pre-trial skills learned during the Lit Skills I course in a live client setting. In these externship placements, students may represent clients in criminal and civil matters as Certified Legal Interns (CLI) and argue cases in circuit, county, and federal courts under the supervision of practicing attorneys. The Florida Supreme Court Internship Program offers highly selective internships with the Florida Supreme Court. Interns function as law clerks to individual justices, central staff law clerks for all the justices, or law clerks for the clerk of court and the administrative justice. 

Massey is teaching Externship: Washington D.C. this semester with the goal to grow the Washington D.C. program; help inform the Miami intern/extern office of possible internships/externships such as with MCDO to build Miami Law representation in the D.C. area. 

Mindy Reinstein Brodsky, J.D. '08, serves as interim director of the externship program. She has taught the Washington, D.C. Semester in Practice Program as an adjunct faculty member since 2019 and was awarded the University of Miami Law Alumni Association Public Interest Leadership Award in 2016. Brodsky previously worked as legislative counsel to U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings, deputy director of Government Relations for the Anti-Defamation League, and director of Government Affairs for The Jewish Federations of North America. 

“It is a true privilege to guide and facilitate students’ exploration of experiential education, while watching them grow both professionally and personally,” said Brodsky. “As evident with students like Jess and Andrew, Miami Law continues to lead the way in supporting students to develop and clarify their professional goals and strengthen lifelong habits of reflective learning and self-awareness.”

Read more about Miami Law’s Externship Program