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Internship Report

Complied by
Shahzad Arain

During winter term break 2008, I completed

my four week internship at the Bennett Law Firm in
Houston, Texas. The Bennett Law Firm is located in
Downtown Houston on 515 Louisiana, Suite 200 – the
heart of the historical theatre district. The Firm
consists of several attorneys and staff-members who
work in a 1900s brick building. I chose to apply to the
Bennett Law Firm for my internship after email-
exchanges with Mr. Bennett. He answered my
concerns about what he expected to accomplish and
provided information about what Münster University
law clerks had done in the past.

The Firm is a Texas Professional Corporation

engaged in the practice of law on a national basis
having the capability of providing a full range of
litigation services to all manner of business entities,
individuals, and organizations. Furthermore, Mr.
Bennett is Board Certified in Consumer and
Commercial Law by the Texas Board of Legal
Specialization and is a former federal prosecutor.
One concentration in which I got an illustrative and
rewarding insight is the representation of lawyers
and medical professionals.

During my time at the Bennett Law Firm, I

was involved in a lot of different tasks such as legal
research, case briefings, and other office work. I did
legal research on lawyer advertising and barratry.
This topic traditionally is not part of the education of
German law students although it can be of enormous
importance for a lawyer’s practice because violations
of the ethics rules can lead to restrictions as well as
to the revocation of one’s license. I saw the
importance of this when I attended a presentation
Mr. Bennett gave at the famous University of Texas
Law School in Austin which I helped prepare some
legal research about the latest developments in this
field of law for the presentation.
Barratry is a complex issue which concerns
an attorney’s behaviour in soliciting clients. An
illustrative example is when a lawyer specialising in
aviation law hears about a collision between two
airplanes at an international airport. Although the
firm never represented any of the airlines involved
he suggests to his Client Development Committee
calling and telling the CEO’s of each company that
the firm is sending a team of drivers with limousines
to the airport to greet officials from both airlines as
they arrive in town to respond to the crash. He also
proposes setting up a hospitality suite for the officials
at the airport hotel and placing copies of the firm’s
brochures in the seat pockets in the passenger
compartment of each limousine and on the coffee
table in hotel suite. These actions will raise several
questions of barratry-statute violations. To answer
whether any kind of lawyer advertising is legal
behaviour or whether it might be restricted or
prohibited by any barratry statue one always has to
be aware of the tension between the commercial
free-speech rights of lawyers, the state’s interest in
regulating the conduct of lawyers and the privacy
rights of individuals who are or may be the objects of
attorney solicitation.

I twice got the opportunity to go to Austin

with Mr. Bennett to hearings in front of the Texas
Medical Board where he was representing physicians
who were being charged for violations of some of the
rules of the Texas Medical Board. Following the
procedure of the hearings was pretty interesting and
exciting for me as I had been able to get familiar with
the claims in detail before and had joined the
conversation between Mr. Bennett and his clients just
before the hearings started.
I also was able to attend some court hearings
at the local federal- and district courts which gave
me a nice insight in the US-American court procedure
and the possibility to compare it to the German court
procedure. One of the big differences which came to
my attention concerns the role of juries in civil- as
well as in criminal cases. I knew in theory that juries
were very common in US-American trials but I had
not expected them to play such a significant rule in
daily court proceedings. For example, the process of
jury vetting at the beginning of a trial is a complex
and time-consuming procedure in which the
attorneys of both sides introduce the potential jurors
to the detailed facts and legal issues of the case.
They are asked about any prejudices. In one of the
cases, dealing with a driving while being drunk-
matter, several of the potential jurors considered
themselves as being biased for partly abstruse
reasons which made me thinking again about the
usefulness of jury trials.

Finally, I spent time on working on the firm’s

website informing potential interns about my
experiences at the firm and name the possibilities
there are in Houston of interest for other German law
students. I prepared information about the Bennett
Law Firm office, the district in Houston as well as of
other helpful information dealing with
accommodations, transportation, sight-seeing,
shopping and entertainment.

As Mr. Bennett is willing to express his

interest in other law students from the University of
Muenster coming to his firm to complete their FFA-
requirement of a three-week-internship and to
continue the relationship to the University of
Muenster, Professor Thomas Lundmark of the
University of Münster was contacted about the
relationship. As one of the benefiting results of this
contact, Mr. Bennett will be coming to Muenster in
October where will be giving a lecture to German FFA

In conclusion, my internship at the Bennett

Law Firm in Houston, Texas was an outstanding
experience. I got a deep and inspiring insight in the
work of an US-American law office but beyond that
Mr. and Mrs. Bennett as well as the other friendly and
cooperative staff members took a lot of effort to
make it a helpful trip for me in every way, too.