After attending a Professionalism Series lecture featuring Solicitor Duffie Stone, Yorke Pharr, 3L, learned about a new externship that would provide the opportunity to learn in the classroom as well as gain real-world experience at the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in Beaufort County.
“I thought it would be exciting to be the first student from Charleston Law to take part in this new opportunity, where externs gain hands-on experience and take an active role in the prosecution of criminal cases,” said Pharr.
The Solicitor’s Office prosecutes criminal cases for the State of South Carolina. These cases can range from misdemeanors like criminal domestic violence and DUIs, to serious felonies like murder.
The program required Pharr to take an ethics course and participate in Solicitor Stone’s “trial school,” which culminated in a mock trial between the externs. Following the classroom component, he worked on research assignments, helped assistant solicitors prepare for trial, observed trials and hearings, sat in on witness interviews, visited a crime scene and assisted with discovery.
“The people here have truly integrated the externs into the office and include us in every aspect of prosecuting criminals,” said Pharr. “The attorneys at this site have a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to answer any question, or explain a complex legal problem or procedural issue.”
Standing before a Magistrate and accepting pleas in Transfer Court was his most memorable experience. “I was able to do this under the Student Practice Rule. It is not an opportunity that many students get, and was one of the hands-on components that drew me to this program,” said Pharr.
As a result of “trial school” and observing court, he learned the importance of trial preparation. “Trial lawyers are not actors. It’s their job to put all of the pieces in place to tell the story, and to develop it so the jury understands it and cares about the outcome. To do this, one has to know what one’s case is about and develop a theme.” said Pharr. “It is also important to know where to place oneself in the courtroom at different stages of a trial, and how to order witnesses to build the strongest case without confusing the jurors.”
He credits courses such as Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing; Professional Responsibility; and Criminal Procedure for his success with this externship.
Pharr is a native of Concord, N.C. and received his degree from Western Carolina University before enrolling at the Charleston School of Law. He also worked as a paralegal prior to law school.
Charleston School of Law’s externship program allows students to gain practical work experience while earning course credit. Students complement their classroom studies by working under the direct supervision of members of the judiciary or attorneys in the public sector. This summer, Charleston School of Law students are at 35 exciting externships sites helping the community. Since fall 2006, Charleston School of Law students have completed approximately 82, 114 externship hours. The externship course is offered during the fall, spring and summer terms. For more information please contact Professor James Klein or Autumn Jones.
Story by: Alexis Economy