Minnesota Law

Summer 2022
All Rise

Summer Experiences: Rising 2L Eric Quintana-Snyder, Judicial Intern, Colorado Supreme Court

Rising 2L Eric Quintana-Snyder is spending the summer working in Denver, Colorado as judicial intern to Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica M. Márquez. He has loved being back in his home state of Colorado and says his experience at the court has left him amazed that even as a law student he is able to have a real impact on the development of the law of a state. “This internship far exceeded my expectations,” he says.

How did you connect with this summer opportunity?

I initially reached out to Justice Márquez about the steps I needed to take to end up back in my home state of Colorado after graduating. Conveniently, she was seeking interns at the same time I emailed her, and she encouraged me to apply to her chambers as a first step in rooting myself in the Colorado legal market.

How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?

I still don’t quite know what I want to do after graduation, so appellate work is a particularly great way to narrow it down (or in my case, make the decision even more confusing). I get exposed to an insane number of novel legal issues which require me to learn quickly, but efficiently, to ultimately take a position on the various issues in a case. Digesting novel facts and applying legal principles is obviously relevant to a lawyer’s job in any field, so regardless of what I end up doing, I am fine tuning my legal reasoning skills.

Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

Life at the court is hectic, and you never really know what is going to come through the door on any given day. Sometimes I will be reviewing a petition for certiorari, other times I will be working on a bench memo, and other times still I spend time in chambers talking through issues with the clerks and justice. Currently I am helping with research for an opinion that was assigned to our chambers. Consequently, most of my day involves reading dozens of cases, law review articles, and books to get a better sense of the issues that are before the court. Of course, I also enjoy getting to know the other chambers when the day allows!

What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising during this summer position?

I was surprised at the varying legal abilities of lawyers who argue at the supreme court level. There are lawyers who have clearly spent more time in the court than their own homes, and those who may be arguing for their first time in the court. Along those lines, it was interesting to see different lawyers’ styles of argument and seeing how their careers affect the way they argue.

What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience so far?

First, the fact that I, even as a first year, can have valuable insights that affect the development of the law in an entire state is just baffling. Along those lines, this experience has really instilled upon me the idea that every person has a unique perspective and can contribute to positive change in the world. Second, some legal issues seem absolutely impossible to reason through, but if you truly take the time to do thorough research and can effectively break down big issues into smaller one, no question is unanswerable. 

How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

This internship far exceeded my expectations. I knew I would have a lot of responsibilities, but the trust that Justice Márquez and her clerks have in me and my co-intern has really made this a worthwhile experience. Additionally, I was not expecting to be as star struck as I am on a daily basis. There’s something about chatting with a supreme court justice while you are both waiting for the printer that has a way of reminding you of the grandiose nature of the work you do while simultaneously serving as a reminder that they are just normal people, and they were just young lawyers with big aspirations at some point too.

How do you like living and working in Colorado?  

I am originally from Colorado, and at this point I have been away for so long that I missed it more than anything. It is my first time living in Denver (in Denver is a loose term, I commute an hour from a cute little mountain town to get to work every morning), and I truly think it is in the top three best cities in the U.S. (alongside Washington D.C. and Chicago)—the food is spectacular, the people are even better, and there are endless outdoor activities. For example, we have glaciers in our backyards year-round, try skiing in August! 10/10 recommend. 

What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?

Don’t be shy to apply. I applied to dozens of places and the Supreme Court was the only one to even bother sending me an email back. The work is really hard at first since it is easy to feel like a first-year law student shouldn’t know anything about the law—but that’s the point. Nobody really knows anything about the law, all knowledge comes from research, and we have been searching databases for our entire lives. Imposter syndrome is real, the law is imaginary, and you really can impress people with your skills no matter how you feel on the first day. 

"Don’t be shy to apply. I applied to dozens of places and the Supreme Court was the only one to even bother sending me an email back. The work is really hard at first since it is easy to feel like a first-year law student shouldn’t know anything about the law—but that’s the point."
Eric Quintana-Snyder, 2L

How are you spending your free time this summer?

Most of my day is taken up by my gorgeous commute through the mountains. When I do get some free time, I love to go on hikes, explore new restaurants, and discover the several national parks in my backyard. 

What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall?

I miss my friends! They have helped me learn so much and I can’t wait to see what their jobs taught them this summer. We don’t learn anything on our own—we are the product of the people we hang out with, and I am grateful to be part of an utterly brilliant community like Minnesota Law.