Legislative Intern Gains Hands-On Experience in Tallahassee

Published: April 14th, 2008

Category: Feature, Students

Jesus SuarezThe Gator Nation is everywhere – even in Seminole territory.

Third-year UF Law student Jesus Suarez (pictured left with Rep. Dean Cannon, right) found this to be true as a visiting student at Florida State University College of Law while interning at the Florida House of Representatives.

The current Legislative Intern Program has 12 graduate students, including 10 second-and third-year law students, who work in various offices within the Florida House of Representatives. Of the 10 law students in the program, nine are students at Florida State University College of Law, which leaves Suarez the lone Gator in the bunch. But being the only Gator does not faze him because of the support of UF alumni in the area. “There are tons of Gators in the Capitol and throughout Tallahassee,” Suarez said. “It feels like home.”

With an undergraduate degree in finance, Suarez has served as a staff member to the Florida House of Representatives Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council and said he enjoys the spontaneity of his job. “The great part is there is no typical day — different challenges every day,” he said.

Throughout his internship, Suarez has co-authored interim projects, bills, amendments and staff analysis. “During the course of the session I am responsible for tracking the progress of the bills I have been assigned as they make their way through both chambers,” he said. Along with the opportunity to witness how a bill is created and then introduced, Suarez said he has enjoyed the opportunity to meet with different legislators. “It is a very hands-on experience,” he said.

After graduating this May, Suarez will return to his hometown of Miami, Fla. to join the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney. Suarez said he believes that learning firsthand through his internship how laws are created will serve as a great asset when deconstructing laws as a future litigator.

Students in the Legislative Intern Program work part time from September through January and can choose to work full time from February through May to help with the demanding workload that comes with the legislative session. The State of Florida pays the interns’ tuition for a full year and provides compensation for the hours worked.

Suarez found the internship opportunity through career services and said he recommends anyone to learn more by visiting career services and the Legislative Intern Program Web site.

Even though he is miles away from his UF Law professors and fellow classmates, Suarez said he would have never passed up the chance. “For a law student there is no greater opportunity than to work with the state Legislature,” Suarez said.