A capstone Q&A with Sam Zimmerman

Sam Zimmerman

Case Western Reserve University School of Law is ranked as a "Top School" in multiple categories, including Practical Training. 3L Sam Zimmerman recently answered some questions about his capstone experience with the Richland County Prosecutor's Office in Mansfield, Ohio. Learn more about our practical training programs

What drew you to this site and its work?

I wanted to do a capstone in my hometown because I got hired by a local firm to work there after I graduated. The firm was too small to host me for the capstone project, so I thought the prosecutor's office would be the next best thing. Not only could I build relationships with attorneys who I will likely be interacting with for years to come, but I could gain a lot of valuable experience from working with them too.

What has been the most rewarding part of your capstone thus far?

The best part of the capstone is having my own case docket, and getting to do all the work related to those cases under the supervision of other attorneys. They give me a lot of agency on what I get to do, and they are very supportive of me being in the office.

What has been the most challenging part of your capstone thus far and how have you navigated that?

The toughest part is learning and performing so many law related tasks all at once. The important things for navigating such an experience is researching and preparing as much as you can ahead of time, asking questions when you are stuck, and acknowledging that you aren't going to be perfect. I always view making mistakes as making an investment into myself, so even though the work can be difficult, it's helping me become a better lawyer in the long run.

What advice would you have for students navigating the myriad of experiential opportunities--externships but also labs, clinics, mock trial/moot court--available to them?

Pick a capstone based on factors that matter the most to you and your career goals. Do you want a capstone that will introduce you to attorneys you want to network with? Do that. Do you want experience in a particular field of law? Find a capstone that will give you that. Also, don't be afraid to be creative and reach out to create your own capstone experience. Mansfield, Ohio is an hour and fifteen minutes away from Cleveland and hasn't had a Case Western student intern there in years. I emailed someone to start a conversation and it turned into a year long adventure that has been extremely impactful on my development in becoming an attorney.