When Mike McKinley visited Washington, D.C. five years ago, he knew he wanted to come back. He was fascinated by the capital’s unique blend of impressive individuals from every state and country and the differing perspectives they offered. This summer, McKinley’s wish to return to Washington, D.C. was fulfilled when he accepted an externship position clerking for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I have always wanted to have a hands-on experience working on Capitol Hill,” McKinley said. “Finding this position with the Senate was a little bit of a dream come true for me. I pinch myself every day when I walk to work through the National Mall.”
The legal clerk staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee provides background research on judicial nominees, proposed legislation, and other matters presented before the committee in hearings. In addition, McKinley regularly sits in on council meetings with Senator Lee. In these meetings, often with four other council members, McKinley has the opportunity to observe the factors that influence what the senator decides to do and to hear his thought process behind an official action.
BYU Law provided McKinley with a strong foundation as he prepared for his externship. He explains that the research and writing skills he obtained during his first year at BYU Law prepared him to adeptly handle assignments with aplomb. In addition, he feels that BYU Law provided him with the professionalism and confidence he has in his regular interactions with senior staffers and congressmen.
Mckinley is gaining valuable experience in the legal and political fields. He sees how the political process operates and how a law degree contributes to that understanding. “Knowing a statute is one thing,” he said, “but understanding how legislation is crafted, amended, debated, and enacted is an essential component of legal knowledge.”