Our annual Student Summer Series presents first-person reflections from a few Berkeley Law students who are engaged in intriguing summer work across a wide swath of practice areas. While only a sampling of the valuable job experience and skill development students gain all over the legal landscape, we hope the series provides a glimpse into the rewarding opportunities they regularly access, often in partnership with our Career Development Office.
A Berkeley Law Public Interest Scholar, Tiffaney Boyd ’25 was recently appointed to the City of Berkeley’s Commission on the Status of Women. Associate editor of the California Law Review and publishing editor of the Berkeley Journal of Black Law & Policy, she is also active in the school’s Digital Rights Project and Law Student of African Descent. As student body president at Cal-State San Marcos, Boyd led the creation of a student-led food pantry and a resource center for Black students. She spent over five years in politics and public service before law school, most recently as a legislative director in the California State Assembly.
Below, Boyd discusses her rewarding summer in New York City as a judicial extern for Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
“Don’t measure your success by whether you become a Supreme Court justice … but measure it from how far you’ve come from where you started, from how many times you got up after being knocked down, measure your success in how you stayed true to yourself and accomplished things you never thought were possible.”
These inspiring words of wisdom, spoken by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, have been etched in my heart since I heard them during the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program reception this summer. Meeting Justice Sototmayor was an incredible moment and her message resonated deeply with me, a first-generation student hailing from the humble surroundings of “cow-town” Hemet, California, now finding myself in the midst of a judicial internship in the Southern District of New York.
Reflecting on my personal journey, it’s not just about the physical distance I’ve traveled (coast to coast) but the immense leap in possibility and self-confidence that came from embracing meaningful opportunities beyond my comfort zone.
Before law school, I had the front-row privilege of witnessing how laws are legislatively changed, and when I decided to pursue law school I desired to delve deeper into the intricacies of the judicial system to understand how judges and courts apply and shape the law. The Sonia Sotomayor Program provided me with the opportunity to do just that.
Stepping into the dark cherry oak courtrooms felt surreal, and working for a federal judge in the Southern District of New York has been exhilarating and eye-opening. Each day brought new cases with unique legal challenges that allowed me to dive deep into the heart of legal issues and embrace the weight of its responsibility.
By the second week I was watching an entire trial unfold — from jury selection to witness examinations to the jury’s verdict. It was an unforgettable experience that colored in my understanding of courtroom dynamics and legal standards beyond the theories of legal textbooks and coursework. It is an experience I wholeheartedly recommend every law student take time to absorb.
Throughout the internship, I observed settlement conferences, pretrial motion hearings, and trials. I even had the opportunity to draft a report and recommendation for a writ of habeas corpus, further enriching my legal knowledge and honing my analytical skills.
My work has involved researching legal questions and the federal rules of civil procedure, researching and reviewing case records and motions, writing legal memos, researching the applicable law, drafting memorandums, cite checking, and shadowing.
However, this summer has been about more than just academic growth. The guidance and mentorship from Judge Parker have been invaluable in shaping my perspective on the judicial process. I learned the critical role of patience, empathy, and compassion in the courtroom, seeing judges not only as authority figures but as genuine human beings.
The environment at the court fostered collaboration, support, encouragement, and inclusivity. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to intern with a federal magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York.
As I continue on my path, I carry with me the wisdom of Justice Sotomayor’s words, knowing that success is not merely measured by prestigious titles but by the journey traveled, the times I’ve risen after falling, and the authenticity with which I pursue my dreams. I am determined to stay true to myself, push the boundaries of what I believe I can achieve, and make a lasting difference in the pursuit of justice.
Although my journey has only just begun, this experience has energized me. I’m returning to Berkeley Law with optimism, knowing that this summer has forever shaped the person and professional I aspire to become.