Craig Robinson: President of the Trial Advocacy Club at Villanova University College of Law, Villanova, PA
by Heather Jung
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"At first it was just trying to get a handle on understanding the Immigration and Nationality Act," Robinson said. "Most of the time I was writing a lot of memoranda, doing a lot of research on different cases, responding to different motions, that sort of thing. It more or less developed itself, and this is the program they had set up, that I would actually be getting into a courtroom and doing cross-examinations. It was a great opportunity to be exposed to many different types of cases from many different countries."
Thanks to his internship, Robinson has found a field of law that he is extremely passionate about: international law.
"I think immigration law and international law are very fascinating topics. I think a lot of that has to do with the importance they have today and how hot of a topic immigration law has become, especially in this country. It has really grown to be a great interest of mine," Robinson said.
The internship also provided him with courtroom experience that is difficult to obtain while still in law school. It allowed him to gain confidence and a sense of familiarity with the way courts run.
"I know it's pretty tough to get an internship that involves being in a courtroom a lot, and this really gave me that opportunity," Robinson said. "I don't know if there are too many other opportunities like that out there. I really got to feel comfortable with being in front of a judge. The immigration court is a smaller environment than a civil court or criminal court. It was a good starting place for me to gain practical experience."
It was during his time as an undergraduate at Penn State University that Robinson, whose major was Supply Chain and Information Systems, found his first real calling to law. During his sophomore year, he contacted personal injury attorney Chuck Schleifer, who had been Robinson's basketball coach as a child. Schleifer gave Robinson the opportunity to work for him during Robinson's sophomore and senior years. Robinson calls Schleifer his mentor and role model.
"I have always been a real people person so I knew that I wanted to do something that involved utilizing my interpersonal skills," he said.
As a Spanish minor during his undergraduate studies, Robinson had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, where he got his first real taste for international relations. Due to his combined experiences in Spain and with the Department of Homeland Security, he is definitely considering a career in international law.
"After this experience at Homeland Security, I was exposed to all different aspects of immigration law—people from many different countries requesting relief for various reasons," Robinson said. "I just really find the whole field fascinating. There's so much to learn that really can't be taught in a law school course, and I was exposed to a lot of that this past summer and fall, and I am still continuing to work for them this spring as much as I can. There is just so much to learn and the whole field fascinates me."
Robinson is also the President and Founder of the Trial Advocacy Club, which, according to Robinson, brings in speakers to talk to members about "what it's like to be a trial attorney." It gives its members exposure to different fields within trial advocacy and a chance to network with other trial attorneys. Throughout the year, Robinson coordinates lectures and panels for members to attend.
What do you do for fun?
Well, I am an avid basketball player. In addition to that, being with friends is something that's very important to me so just spending a lot of time with my friends and family. I'm also into skiing. Sports have always been a big part of my life, so I like to keep it that way and stay in shape.
What CD is in your CD player right now?
Pearl Jam. I'm not sure which one.
What is the last magazine you read?
What is your favorite TV show?
Right now I would have to say 24..
Who is your role model?
Chuck Schleifer, the attorney who I worked for.
"I truly think that everything there is to know about the law can't be covered in the small amount of time you have in class," Robinson said. "There's so much to learn and so much to get out of it, especially while you are in school. Arranging for guest speakers is very beneficial to address many fields of law and to give some new and different perspectives."
While his externship at the Department of Homeland Security has remained his favorite part of law school, Robinson also loves the relationships he has forged during his time at law school.
"I made a lot of great friends here," he said. "I would say the relationships that I have made with both friends and professors [are my favorite parts of law school]. We only have four or five law schools in the area so a lot of the relationships we form in law school are going to be important for the future of our professional careers."