English major and psychology minor Tiffany Phaneuf ’11 recently took advantage of one of the many internship opportunities available to students in the Pioneer Valley. Under the supervision of Niel Phillips, a partner in the Springfield-based law firm Dunn & Phillips, P.C., Phaneuf spent this past summer learning the ins and outs of the legal profession.
Dunn & Phillips, P.C. offers a variety of legal services to residents of the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Working both in and out of the courtroom, the attorneys at Dunn & Phillips specialize in areas of business, real estate, criminal defense, and personal injury.
"My main daily responsibility was to meet with clients," said Phaneuf of the internship. "The lawyers were present in these meetings and encouraged me to share my own advice and concerns."
Interacting with clients made her realize the importance of establishing trust and the responsibility a lawyer carries when clients rely on him/her to win a case.
"I came face to face with clients who, because of the trust they put in me, have touched my life in ways that would not have been possible without this internship," she said.
"When I was at Dunn and Phillips, I felt that I was in a family," Phaneuf fondly recalled. The law office operates out of a multistory home which she called "cozy."
Phaneuf also provided crucial support to lawyers in the courtroom, helping research and review cases before they went to trial.
Her time at Mount Holyoke gave her skills that translated well to a law office setting.
"Mount Holyoke has taught me how to look at situations from many different perspectives and how to read situations critically and analytically," she said. "The lawyer I worked with would come to me and ask whether or not I thought he should take a case because he noticed that I never went into anything without caution."
Interning at Dunn and Phillips gave aspiring lawyer Phaneuf some much-needed practical experience in a law firm.
"I felt that I caught a real glimpse into the workday of a lawyer," she said.
The three-month position helped solidify her career goals, and she is now applying to law schools and exploring the possibility of a public policy master’s degree.