My experience with journalism as a legal intern

By Anna Olson, junior in journalism and mass communication

“Ever since I was little, I dreamed of being a lawyer. I’m not sure if I determined this after I started a petition to stop the ban on flip-flops in my elementary school or when the mayor of Boone told me I’d make a good attorney someday. All I know is that I’ve had the goal to go to law school my whole life.

After deciding to attend Iowa State and enrolling in the Greenlee School of Journalism, I realized that journalism – being  another passion of mine – could easily combine with my career path of law school and help me obtain my overarching goal. Upon approaching my junior year, I knew I wanted to work at a law firm for my 499A internship. At that point, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t see any law firms looking for interns on CyHire, so I decided to find my own internship opportunity.

For weeks I looked up different law firms in the Des Moines area and even firms in Kansas City and California specializing in human rights or discrimination cases – the type of law I wanted to practice. Almost every law firm I reached out to said they didn’t hire undergraduate student interns, but “thanks for the inquiry and check back in a few years.” I had almost given up hope of working in a law firm until I received an email from Amy Beck with Fiedler Law Firm in Johnston, Iowa. After being fortunate enough to receive the position of legal intern at Fiedler, I had the chance to not only learn about what it means to take a case from start to finish, but also expand my knowledge of public relations and journalism. I was able to adapt my writing skills to not only depict cases and recent events accurately, but also in a creative way through making blog posts. I also had the opportunity to create videos and graphics for the firm’s social media pages, and expanded their platform to include LinkedIn. I connected Fiedler attorneys to outside organizations and individuals so others could learn how to protect themselves from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

Although this is a very short snippet of the journalism and public relations duties of the job, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the behind-the-scenes process of the law firm. From speaking to potential clients, to helping with case research and watching as those cases progressed either to mediation, out-of-court settlement, or the courtroom, it was very interesting to learn the legal process from start to finish. I would highly recommend this internship as it expanded my knowledge and skills in journalism. I utilized what I learned at Greenlee and applied that knowledge in a real-world setting.

Finally, I would definitely recommend creating your own internship if one in your preferred career is not readily available. I am so glad I reached out to Fiedler as it proved to be a great learning opportunity. And the best part of my internship: they asked me to come back and work for them again! You can definitely create your own adventure at Iowa State.”

Editor’s note: Edited for length and clarity. Greenlee 499A internship scholarships support students who have a primary major in advertising, journalism and mass communication or public relations and are completing their required 400-hour internships. The application is available each spring.