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Courtroom experience on law school student’s docket

Third-year University of Mississippi law school student WillieWatkins, 24, of McComb, will partake in a learning opportunity thissummer that extends beyond the classroom and textbooks.

As an intern for the District Attorney’s Office of the 14thDistrict, Watkins will be authorized to engage in limited practicein court.

Watkins took an oath Thursday that will allow him to serve inhis temporary duties. He is now able to participate in trials andhearings if his supervising attorney is present, said Diane Jones,assistant district attorney.

Watkins, who received his bachelor’s degree in advertising fromJackson State University in 2003, said the opportunity to interactwith people and to effect social change sparked his interest in thelaw profession.

“I think we all want to make a difference and better society andour communities,” he said.

Watkins’ responsibilities will include conducting research,making courtroom appearances and assisting his supervising attorneywith trials.

“I can basically do attorney work as long as my supervisingattorney is present at the trial with me,” he said.

In accordance with the Mississippi legal code, Watkins will notbe paid for his services. But that’s OK with Watkins, who said heis looking forward to the overall experience.

Jones said having a summer intern is beneficial for the DA’soffice.

“We have a huge case load,” Jones said. “Three counties generatea lot of cases, and we need all the help we can get.”

Watkins will graduate in May and plans to take the MississippiBar Exam. He plans to pursue a career as a prosecutingattorney.