Success Stories

Leah Achor
Blackstone Fellow; Alliance Defending Freedom; Washington, D.C.

Leah was first impacted by Alliance Defending Freedom as an undergraduate student at Geneva College, which had filed a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services Administration. The contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act conflicted with the institution's religious beliefs. "I admired the ADF attorneys' passion for protecting my school's religious conscience and decided that I wanted to do the very same work. The Blackstone Fellowship will put me steps closer to achieving that goal." Leah spent her time researching and writing in ADF's Marriage and Family section, which is dedicated to protecting the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.


Abbie Nordhagen
Blackstone Fellow; Solicitor General, Montana Attorney General's Office; Helena, Montana

"I spent the two first weeks of my fellowship listening to scholars and discussing politics and religion with some of the nation’s brightest. For the internship portion of the fellowship, I worked for the Solicitor General in the Montana Attorney General's office. I worked on some of the state’s hot button cases and wrote a criminal appellate brief to the Montana Supreme Court. If you are thinking about applying for Blackstone, the answer is unequivocally, 'Yes.'"


Rebecca Vermette
Policy Intern; Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; Washington, D.C.
Blackstone Fellow; Center for Bioethics and Culture; Pleasant Hill, California

"I had the privilege of helping facilitate the Congress Coalition on Adoption Institutes' Foster Youth Internship, which pairs young men and women who were formerly in foster care with congressmen and women as summer interns. I also helped research and inform congressional offices about adoption issues. As Blackstone Legal Fellow, I was able to work at the Center for Bioethics and Culture near my home."


Kevin Hoffman
Judicial Intern, Federal District Judge Mark Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia

"Judge Davis took a special interest in ensuring that my summer was a positive experience and in sharing many lessons he had learned in his years of practicing law and serving as a judge."


Chelsea Schlittenhart
Judicial Intern; Judge John C. Gemmill, Arizona Court of Appeals; Phoenix, Arizona

Chelsea met Judge Gemmill at Regent Law’s annual Hassell Competition, a connection that led to a judicial externship with the judge. Schlittenhart drafted opinions for criminal and family law, unemployment board, and Anders cases before presenting them to the judge. She also attended judicial conferences.


Joshua Smith
Judicial Intern; Justice Jeff Brown of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals; Houston, Texas

Joshua says this internship, combined with previous internships with Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm of the Southern District of Texas and Texas District Judge Edwin Denman, were excellent opportunities for him to learn to work more efficiently and clearly communicate complex ideas. “I have observed the importance of being attentive to details, how clear and concise writing will capture a reader’s attention, and that only a thorough and thoughtful approach to one’s case will sufficiently prepare an attorney for court. These ‘behind-the-scenes’ experiences have prepared me to better understand what judges expect from attorneys, and I believe these internships have also prepared me to better meet those expectations.”


Michael Deering
Extern; Sentara Legal Department; Norfolk, Virginia

As an extern, Deering was involved in many different projects, including corporate bylaws, trademark issues, home health and palliative care, and negotiations. "I was treated as a young attorney and was expected to produce results equivalent to the work of a young attorney. The practice of law is not law school. Reading for class and writing memos morphs into an excitement about producing the best work possible."


Erica Pero
Extern; Sentara Legal Department; Norfolk, Virginia

Erica Pero dealt with most of Sentara's corporate matters: mergers, acquisitions, creation of corporate entities, contracts with employees, and tax issues. One of her major projects was to file a Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification report with the Federal Trade Commission in preparation for a major acquisition in Northern Virginia. "The legal department at Sentara Healthcare is a close-knit group of fantastic attorneys. I was treated as an equal from day one. I was given complex tasks that stretched my abilities and forced me to step outside my comfort zone."


Sarah Hajovsky
Extern; Civil Military Fusion Centre; NATO Supreme Allied Command Headquarters; Norfolk, Virginia

Hajovsky reported to the knowledge manager for North East Africa, who is responsible for overseeing the humanitarian crisis in this region. Hajovsky compiled information for and maintained an informational website on piracy off the coast of Somalia. In addition to writing a legal brief detailing the jurisdictional issues surrounding the prosecution of piracy, she also worked for a member of the NATO general counsel. Hajovsky gained a better understanding of maritime law and universal jurisdiction, along with the applicable United Nation Security Council Provisions, International Maritime Organization regulations, and the Suppression of Unlawful Acts directives.


Ben Eastburn
Judicial Extern; Honorable Paul A. Magnuson, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota; Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Being able to learn from this experienced man was more than I had hoped for. Additionally, I was looking forward to interesting and high-profile casework. I was also fortunate to have Judge Magnuson extend an employment offer to me. It was an honor to not have to go through the normal application routes.”


Travis Weber
Judicial Extern; Honorable Mark Davis of U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District; Norfolk, Virginia

"A judge and his clerks need to be skilled in their level of detail and accurate in their assessment of the law. I learned how complex that task is. Despite the importance of how you appear during oral arguments, your skill and ability as a lawyer is largely dependent on your writing ability; it must be logical, truthful, and on point. Effective writing is concise and simple enough for any reader to understand on the first read-through.”