Circuit Judges spend the summer teaching

Jackson County Circuit Judge John Graham and Judge Brent Benson have spent the summer with interns, teaching them the ins and outs of law.
Graham’s intern, Loren Reese, daughter of Lance Reese and Melissa Reese, is a 2019 graduate of Guntersville High School. She finished her first year at the University of Alabama School of Law in May. Reese’s love for law wasn’t immediate. She initially began her college career with a major in Engineering. She then changed her major to Human Development and Human Studies. After graduation, she intends to return to Northeast Alabama and start a career serving the area, focusing on small communities. Reese says that during her summer internship with Graham, she’s learned both legal lessons and life lessons. Legally, Reese says that she’s been able to read through a range of cases. She has also had the opportunity to watch attorneys advocate for their clients.

“On the life side of lessons learned, I have learned how important it is to make connections with the people around you. Both attorneys and clients alike are met with an equal amount of respect from Judge Graham,” said Reese. She went on to say, “The best part of my experience in Scottsboro has been all the people I have gotten to meet. I think I have shaken more hands in the last six weeks than I have my entire life. Everyone has been extremely welcoming to me, and I will miss seeing all of the people I have been privileged to meet. Payne’s being across the street isn’t too bad either.”

Graham said, “I think that as elected officials and public servants we have a duty to help improve the present and future delivery of legal services in Jackson County. We need young lawyers returning to Jackson County to live here, practice law here, and to be part of the community here. These internships are important ways that we as judges can promote that and help ensure the quality of legal services in the next generation.”

Benson’s intern, Taylor Garner, daughter of Heather Dohring and Chris Garner, is a 2018 graduate of Woodville High School and a 2021 graduate of Auburn University. Garner completed her second year at the Cumberland School of Law in May and will graduate in May 2025. Garner’s love for law, just like Reese’s, wasn’t immediate. Garner initially began her college career with a major in Animal Science. While attending Auburn, Garner spent her summer breaks at home working for local attorney James Mick. It was there that her love for law became apparent. Garner said, “While working for Mick, I enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their stories. I also saw that I could help people in their most difficult times.”

After graduation Garner intends to move back to Jackson County to begin her legal career.

During her internship with Benson this summer, Garner has enjoyed watching a murder trial and seeing how both the defense and prosecution presented their cases.

“I have observed several bench trials this summer and have had the opportunity to research some complex legal issues,” she said.

Garner went on to say, “The best part about this internship has been getting to be in my hometown. I have spoken with attorneys who I have never met. I have also run into attorneys who recognized me from almost 20 years ago. The absolute best part of being from a small town is the people. Everyone has treated me with respect and kindness, regardless of how long they have known me.”

Benson stated, “I agree with Judge Graham. It is our duty to help improve the delivery of legal services in our county. We need and want young lawyers to return here to practice and become a part of the community. I would add that when I was a law student, the law schools did not provide any emphasis on small-town law practices. I think it is important to share the experiences of a small-town law practice with the interns. I hope that through these internships we can encourage young people to establish practices in small communities like Jackson County, so we can continue to provide high quality legal service in these communities. Additionally, the Alabama State Bar motto is “Lawyers Render Service.” One way we as elected officials, public servants, and leaders in our communities can provide service is through mentoring the next generation of lawyers.” 

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