Olaleye Onikuyide ’20, a double major in economics and politics and government, is being exposed to all aspects of the legal profession at the Hinckley Allen law firm in Hartford this summer. Thanks to a paid internship through the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity pipeline program (LCD), Olaleye has shadowed a superior court judge for a day, met with a client at a prison, conducted research for legal cases, and sat in on hours of arbitration.
Jane Horvath, associate professor of economics in the College of Arts and Sciences and Olaleye’s academic advisor, encouraged him to apply to the internship program. She chairs UHart’s Pre-Law Advising Program and knew Olaleye of West Hartford, Conn., would be an ideal candidate. The LCD program encourages high-achieving students of color to attend law school and join one of the nearly 30 Connecticut LCD member firms once they receive their law degree.
“Learning about the different types of law you can practice is one of the program’s biggest surprises,” says Olaleye about the opportunity to do different types of legal work. “It’s nice to know you are doing something that is actually having an effect on the cases the firm is handling.”
One of those was a pro-bono case that Olaleye worked on with one of the firm’s lawyers. “She said, ‘this is your case, take it and run with it,’” says Olaleye. “I did the research and prepared most of the materials that were presented to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York.”
At least once a week, Olaleye and eight other LCD interns go on a “field trip” to get more insight into the legal profession. So far, they’ve visited a forensics lab, attended presentations at UConn Law School, and visited the State’s Attorneys office. At the end of the internship, the students present a mock trial that they worked on all summer.
Hinckley Allen recently published an article about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's Qualified Opportunity Zone Program, and credited Olaleye for his outstanding work in researching and drafting the piece.
Olaleye says his interest in the law profession really took off when he took a pre-law class during his first year at UHart. “The course helped prepare me for the realities of being a lawyer. I would love to go to law school when I graduate.”