3L’s interest in criminal law reinforced by fellowship
For 3L Morgan Cook, being awarded the Reinberger Fellowship meant the opportunity to participate in an invaluable experience, one that furthered her interest in criminal law. The fellowship is funded by the Reinberger Foundation through Moritz’s Fellowship Program in Public Service Law and allows for four current students to work/intern in prosecution offices.
“It was a great stress-reliever since I was dipping into my savings a lot, and it was also just nice to be recognized,” Cook said.
Cook spent a summer working in the Kings County District Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, N.Y. and was able to actively participate in a wide variety of assignments during her time there. She went through hours of prison phone calls, helped supervisors craft their cases, and wrote a handful of briefs for the court, including motions to suppress evidence. She also had the responsibility of writing memos for various attorneys within the office that covered topics such as what is considered a faulty criminal suspect lineup and what qualifies as threatening the president of the United States.
“I think I was most proud of having my answers and my motions being sent to the court,” Cook said. “That’s my first experience with having my work, with very little revisions, sent under my attorney’s name directly to the court, and that was rewarding.”
Cook also had the opportunity to work on her own misdemeanor cases, where she prepared everything for arraignment in court, contacted defense attorneys, and interviewed victims. It was an achievement she felt stood out during her experience.
“There’s a sense of accomplishment that came with handling my own cases,” Cook said. “Obviously I worked under the guidance of my supervisors. But it was very independent and I had to take initiative to go after building my case, tracking down security cameras, talking with arresting officers, and getting drug toxicology results. The freedom that I was given to pursue those cases was also something that I’m very pleased about.”
Cook’s initial interest in pursuing a legal education was a result of her work as an undergraduate student for The Law Office of Nancy Berté, an immigration law firm in Chicago. Her job, which included putting together clients’ applications for permanent residency and student visas, proved to be personally rewarding.
“It was nice to be able to help people who deserved to be in the U.S. and in the Chicago area doing good work at the universities,” Cook said. “I enjoyed helping them stay here and take advantage of those opportunities.” Now Cook is looking for opportunities herself by actively seeking a prosecutorial job for after graduation. Her ultimate goal is to utilize her law degree in the field of criminal justice. Joining the FBI had been a goal of hers prior to entering law school. “In five to 10 years, I’d like deal more with the law enforcement aspect than the legal interpretation,” she said.