Student gains U.S. Supreme Court litigation experience through D.C. internship

Perakis and U.S. Representative  Newt Gingrich.

Perakis and U.S. Representative
Newt Gingrich.

Second-year Coastal Law student and Moot Court Honor Board member Dino Perakis recently completed an 11-week summer internship with Safari Club International through the Legal Studies Institute (LSI) in Washington, D.C.

For the past 40 years, LSI has been providing competitive internship programs, which enable students to receive college credit, hands-on experience, and access to guest lectures and networking events.

The program requires a two-week Constitutional Law course and matches first- or second-year law students with internships based on their experiences and interests. Perakis was placed with another intern, Steven Vandercook, and worked within the Litigation Department of Safari Club International, a 55,000 member organization that seeks to protect hunters’ rights and promote wildlife conservation.

“I didn’t know anything about animals and I’m not a hunter. I’m a Republican – that’s the closest I am to being a hunter,” said Perakis, who had previously taught English in Seoul, South Korea, and so was no stranger to embracing unfamiliar territory. “I had no idea how wide the range of the topic was. It was amazing to me how one issue can have people working together on such a large scale. I never thought I’d be part of a team that wrote anything for the Supreme Court, and to do that was amazing.”

Perakis, a Daytona Beach native and graduate of Florida State University, worked under the Safari Club’s Director of Litigation Anna Seidman, who had Perakis and Vandercook prepare testimony for congressional committee hearings and even edit and draft documents for Safari Club’s amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. Within her mentorship, Seidman also helped them further their legal writing, researching, cite-checking, and paralegal skills.

“[Seidman] was just so nice and her writing is phenomenal,” said Perakis. “She is a supreme litigator and it was cool to see everyone at their best. I feel like D.C. is the major leagues of policy, and it just felt really cool to be in that environment.”

This internship has become a motivating experience and reassured him of his plans for after graduation. He said the best part of interning was making new connections, enjoying the pace of D.C. and getting involved in events like the Congressional Baseball Game where he met Ron Paul and Nancy Pelosi.

“I think the best advice is not to rely on other people to do anything. Go out, meet new people, and don’t be scared of a new environment because it’s uncomfortable. You just have to get out there,” he said.