The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Ethan Fairbanks '19 

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Ethan Fairbanks '19 interned with the Honorable Associate Justice James P. Bassett '78 at the New Hampshire Supreme Court for the Winter 2018 term.

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Ethan Fairbanks '19 interned at the New Hampshire Supreme Court for the Winter 2018 term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

From early January to the end of March 2018, I interned at the New Hampshire Supreme Court, located in Concord, NH. As the highest court in the Granite State, and the state’s only appellate court, the Supreme Court annually considers about eight hundred unique cases. Given the nature of the court and the number of cases heard each year, the Court rules on a wide range of legal issues. For instance, during my internship, the Court heard cases concerning child custody, contract law, and First and Fourth Amendment issues. 

The Court consists of four associate justices and a Chief Justice. I served as an intern to the Honorable Associate Justice James P. Bassett '78. During the internship, I reviewed cases that came before the Court, drafted memoranda on them, and observed oral arguments when I had the time.

While keeping up with casework consumed a majority of my time at the Supreme Court, I was also involved in three of Justice Bassett’s long-term projects. Two of these projects involved researching and analyzing contemporary literature on issues that might come before the Court. The third project concerned one of Dartmouth’s favorite sons, Daniel Webster, along with a case that he famously argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Dartmouth College Case of 1819. Justice Bassett is researching these topics in preparation for
 the 2019 bicentennial anniversary of the Case. 

I approached this opportunity determined to learn whether I would enjoy studying the law. I am now certain that I would. While I’m happy to have decided my interest in the law, a more valuable takeaway from this experience is that I am beginning to understand the unique ways in which judges and lawyers think about the law. This knowledge will be beneficial in my future studies, for it provides me with the tools needed to approach any legal question from multiple perspectives, a skill that can only make me a better student of the law. 

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