Duffie Stone knew he wanted to be a prosecutor even before he got into law school, and he's betting some students today feel the same.
Through a new program at the 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office next summer, Stone plans to offer law students a chance he didn't have: to cut their teeth in the courtroom before graduation.
The internship program, in a developing partnership with the Charleston School of Law and the University of South Carolina's School of Law, will be open to rising third-year law students who want to become prosecutors.Solicitor's Office internships are nothing new, but this program offers a twist on the typical clerkship. The students selected by Stone and advisers at the law schools will be trained, then paired with a prosecutor at the Solicitor's Office. With their assigned prosecutor, the students will meet with law enforcement officers and victims as they help prepare cases for trial.
Near the end of their stint, the students and their mentors will argue their cases together in front of a judge and jury.
"Under a S.C. Supreme Court rule practice, students are allowed to go to court on behalf of clients under a licensed, competent and approved South Carolina lawyer," said Jim Klein, the director of the externship program at Charleston School of Law. "They'll be supervising our students, and they'll be putting them through a very intensive orientation program and then gradually move into a situation where they'll be going to court before a judge."
The students -- probably two or three from each law school initially -- will be limited to lower-level cases, with penalties of one year or less in prison upon conviction. Some of the cases may also be in Magistrate Court, Stone said.
Interns won't be paid but will receive course credit, Klein said.
They'll also get to show their worth before they apply for jobs.
"It gives us an opportunity to see potential hires beforehand," Stone said. "It gives the law student an opportunity to see whether or not this is what they want to do, and it gives the law school added curriculum based in prosecution. There's nothing like this they're doing currently."
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/LCBlotter.