Students get law experience with internship

Posted July 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

By JOSHUA PHILLIPS
Northeast News
July 3, 2013

Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. law firm is continuing its tradition of having summer interns with Kelsey Brattin and Crystal Cook.

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Real world experience. Kelsey Brattin, left, and Crystal Cook are gaining real world experiences as summer interns for Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. law firm. Brattin is a junior at the Illinois Wesleyan University and Cook is a junior at Kansas City’s Hogan Prepartory Academy. Photo courtesy of Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P.

Brattin, an English major at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) in Bloomington, Ill., and Cook, a junior at Kansas City’s Hogan Preparatory Academy, will see firsthand how a law firm operates and witness behind the scenes work.

“I was informally introduced to law through extracurriculars at school, but never had the opportunity to work with law myself, and this internship has definitely afforded me that chance,” Brattin said.

Brattin said she hopes to become a human rights lawyer, possibly write a novel and get acquainted with a nonprofit storytelling organization. Her long list of leadership experience has set her up for this internship.

Brattin is a mentor for the Engaging Diversity Program, which offers programs on different types of discrimination. She’s helped coordinate a trip to a homeless shelter, community garden and guided a Privilege Walk with students. She is an officer with Amnesty International, where she arranged for a group of underprivileged elementary students to tour IWU, and participated in a Habitat for Humanity spring break trip to build new homes and host workshops on race relations and immigration in Mobile, Ala. She is involved with the first volunteer collegiate group of Scholars at Risk, where the group presented their legal case advocating the release of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to the Chicago Bar Association’s Human Rights Panel.

“John (Kurtz) is a fantastic role model and he lets me do actual work with his cases, to be of help with the cases instead of just sorting files,” Brattin said.

Cook’s story of how she heard about Hubbard & Kurtz law is different from Brattin’s. John Kurtz came to Cook’s home to meet with Cook’s mother, since she was a witness in a case Kurtz was working on. While Kurtz was waiting in one room of the house, Cook asked him if he wanted to see her report card.

“Crystal’s mother was getting ready to visit with me and after 10 minutes, this little voice from a 14-year-old girl said, ‘Would you like to see my report card?’” Kurtz said. “(Crystal) showed it to me and I thought it was a very good report card so I wrote her a letter telling her how good I thought it was and several months later she said, ‘I am sure interested in law, could I come see it sometime?’ I thought 14 was a little early but I said if you keep doing well in school we would give you a chance later on, and this year at 16 between sophomore and junior years of high school, was her chance to do that.”

One of the reasons Kurtz likes having younger interns is so he can “benefit greatly from being around young people… to have the opportunity to think with young people, listen to young people and to become educated in what young people are thinking because young people show up in juries, are involved in cases and we have various points where we have to interact with them.”

Cook said she has always had an interest in a law career and wants to get into criminal law. Cook said she helps Kurtz with understanding the younger generation of the day, but that this internship has helped her develop skills for her future career.

“What I like about this internship is that John gives me constructive criticism to help tell me things that I could do better and he takes his time out of his day to help someone out,” Cook said.

Although Kurtz said he benefits from working with young interns, Brattin said she benefits from his mentoring style.

“It is paramount for my generation to learn from generations that came before us to avoid mistakes, but to also improve on and keep the world turning,” Brattin said.

Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. law firm is located at 1718 Walnut Street in Kansas City, Mo. Their practice includes legal representation for personal injury, civil rights, products liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, elder law, probate law, business and tax law, wills and trusts and other legal issues including real estate. Hubbard & Kurtz serves clients in Atchison, Columbia, Independence, Lawrence, Lee’s Summit, Olathe, Overland Park, St. Joseph, Topeka, Warrensburg and other Kansas and Missouri communities.