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Summer Internships: Emma Ryan '24

September 29, 2022
Emma Ryan sitting down at National Association for Prosecution Coordination conference volunteer table

Name: Emma Ryan
Class Year: 2024
Major: Linguistics
Hometown: Centennial, CO

Internship Organization: Colorado District Attorneys’ Council
Job Title: Intern
Location: Denver, CO

Going into this summer I was pursuing an internship that would allow me to work in the legal world, specifically in criminal law because, after Bryn Mawr I intend to earn a law degree and work in litigation. However, this was a difficult task due to the fact that as an undergraduate student, most legal internships were unavailable to me because I have not yet entered law school. Thankfully, I was able to find an internship with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council (CDAC), an organization that I had shadowed in high school as an assignment for my AP Government and Politics class. CDAC is an organization devoted to improvement of the criminal justice system through the provision of guidance to elected officials on criminal justice issues and training to prosecutors and members of law enforcement. As their intern, I had the opportunity to gain a larger understanding of the intricacies of the criminal justice system as a whole. 

Desk with computer and textbook for Emma Ryan's internship

My major focus for the summer was the creation of the office’s annual legislative update which summarized any bills passed in this year’s session which pertained to prosecutors and members of law enforcement. This meant reading through bills which had passed, sorting them into categories of impact, and producing both a written update and a presentation to be used in training sessions. In addition to the legislative update, the office also does training for District Attorneys’ Offices and Law Enforcement Agencies on case law from the previous year. This included court decisions which pertained to issues regarding the 4th Amendment with search and seizure, the 5th Amendment with due process, new crimes and elements, and criminal procedure. Through the creation of these trainings, I had the opportunity to gain a greater familiarity with both statute language and case law to be used in my future studies. 

In addition to the larger projects I was working on, I also conducted research into issues CDAC is anticipating to consult on during the next legislative session. This included research into subjects such as:

  • Juvenile crime and minimum age for prosecution
  • Legal marijuana and the emergence of the Delta-8 Cannabinoid
  • Vehicular homicide and use of statutory language like “extreme indifference”

These projects required the use of legal research into laws in other states to see how other jurisdictions handle these kinds of issues. In doing this research, I gained a familiarity with not only Colorado law, but also statutory language and processes around the country. 

My exposure to law from across the nation did not end with legal research either. This year, the National Association for Prosecutor Coordination held their summer conference in Golden, CO which allowed me to attend with some of my other coworkers. While there, I had some administrative duties and I also helped with the curation of material for CDAC’s social media surrounding the event. The conference gave me the opportunity to meet and speak with prosecutors from around the country and see presentations given on topics concerning criminal justice. I found the most interesting to be a presentation developed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that discussed the way laws and police procedure were utilized by Nazi Germany as a reminder of the importance of working to ensure that criminal justice is in fact, just. 

Presenters at NAPC conference in front of seated audience

My favorite part of my internship this summer was the opportunity to participate in the state’s three-day major case training course offered to prosecutors who are just starting to try felony cases. Through this course, I learned about case procedure, forensic evidence, trial prep, and court proceedings. The speakers brought in to teach this course were extremely engaging and they provided an amazing chance to participate in it as an undergraduate student who has not yet entered law school. 

My work with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council this summer has cemented my interest in entering the legal field and provided me with skills, knowledge, and networks which will surely aid in the accomplishment of that goal. 

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.