Notes From the Field: John Kilcommons '19

John Kilcommons '19 interned at the Law Division within the Cook County Circuit Court during the 2018 summer term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

The Law Division within the Cook County Circuit Court is responsible for taking civil cases that claimed money damages exceeding $50,000 or more. Within my courtroom, my judge, the Honorable Lorna Propes, oversaw multiple trials and even more pre-trial settlement hearings. As an officer of the court, Judge Propes acted as a facilitator of justice according to the laws of Cook County. As a clerk within her court, I was responsible for the intake and production of legal documents spanning from pre-trial motions such as discovery, motions in limone, as well as post-trial motions such as appeals. I coordinated with many lawyers in redistributing many of these legal documents.

During my time with Judge Propes, I was a part of 4 full length jury trials as well as over 30 pre-trial settlements. I was responsible for recording in a database the outcomes of all of the court preceding’s for Judge Propes and the Cook County Circuit Court. Additionally, I was able to observe how many of Chicago’s most successful trial lawyers operate. Many lawyers came to Judge Propes specifically to have her mediate their settlement hearings. I was able to sit in and observe the different techniques she used to bring the two sides together. This experience was invaluable to me as I wish to be a trial lawyer working in civil litigation. Judge Propes would sit with me after the work day was over and discuss the different things that we had seen in the courtroom that day and provide insight as to where the lawyers were making mistakes and how they could improve. She was very engaging and a great teacher. Many of the techniques she taught me regarding argument and strategy within the courtroom will be helpful throughout law school.

This experience reinforced my desire to go to law school. Judge Propes commitment to her work was extremely evident and contagious. I really enjoyed going to work each day to learn from her. By working for a public policy organization, I realized the importance our fellow citizens play in administering justice. The jury system, as Judge Propes taught me, and instilled within her jurors at the beginning of every trial, is part of the fabric of this country and what makes it so great.

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.