During her first year at NYLS, Yuriko Miyasaka 1L aimed to keep an open mind about her career path.
As summer approached, she searched for an internship that would sharpen her legal research and writing skills. But nothing was quite the right fit. And then, Miyasaka’s NYLS career advisor pointed her to an intriguing option: the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program.
Named after the U.S. Supreme Court Justice and her mother, the program pairs law students from diverse backgrounds with judicial internships. Miyasaka hadn’t considered working for a judge, but she was interested. She applied, progressed through a rigorous vetting process, and was thrilled to become one of around 30 New York-area law students admitted to the program.
“I was very interested to see how judges reach their decisions, especially when it comes to complex or nuanced cases where there are good arguments on both sides,” Miyasaka said.
Through the Sotomayor Program, she’s begun interning with a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of New York. Her assignments have included research and legal analysis, and she’s been able to observe a wide range of court proceedings.
“It’s exactly the type of experience I was hoping for, and I’ve already been exposed to many different areas of the law,” she said.
The program runs until August and includes opportunities to network with members of the judiciary. The Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program also includes a division that serves high school students from underrepresented groups.
“I think the program’s work is very important,” she says. “I sort of fell into a legal career. I don’t have parents who are lawyers and never thought of myself as someone who could become a lawyer. I can imagine that many other students feel the same way.”
Miyasaka, who grew up in Queens and attended high school in Manhattan, began working part-time for a small consumer bankruptcy law firm as a teenager. After graduating from high school, she stayed on at the firm full-time, progressing from an administrative role to general manager. Then, Miyasaka enrolled at Baruch College while continuing to work part-time at the firm. In 2016, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Operations Management.
Over the years, Miyasaka had become a core advisor to the firm’s owner and was making significant business decisions that often carried legal implications. Without a J.D., though, she felt limited. Now, Miyasaka thinks that a career at the crossroads of law and business operations might be the right fit, but she’s taking a thoughtful approach to the process.
“While I’m at NYLS, I want to expose myself to different areas of law,” she said. “And once I figure out my pathway, I’m eager to help younger students learn more about the law, just as NYLS and this program have helped guide me.”