GCU student becomes 1st to intern at appeals court

March 23, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Jackson Billings is the first GCU student to serve an internship with the Arizona Court of Appeals.

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Jackson Billings has some advice for students before he graduates in April with a nice entry on his resume: the first student from Grand Canyon University to intern at the State of Arizona Court of Appeals.

“Mr. (Kevin) Walling is great at posting internships and job opportunities, so students should take advantage of that more often,” Billings said of the Chair of Justice Studies, Government and History at GCU. “People want to hire GCU students. So go ahead and put your name out there.”

In fact, Billings said he was hired before his interview wrapped up at the Court of Appeals.

The internship, which started in January and runs through March, was a good start for a career he hopes will lead to becoming a judge. After earning a degree in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies, the senior wants to attend law school next fall and get some legal experience toward the goal of sitting on the bench.

“Judges are important because justice needs to be service and judges serve a non-partisan role,” said the Omaha, Nebraska, native. “There are so many sides to arguments, and people are always going to be divided. I feel like judges are the middle ground and make sure the law is accurately applied, finding how a case applies to the law and not just my own opinion or my side.”

Billings has known he wanted to be a judge since his freshman year in high school, when he served in that role in a leadership program for American Legion Boys State, educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. He went on to job shadow judges.

“For many students first exploring the field of law and justice as careers, they gravitate toward thinking about lawyers and police officers. I’m happy students like Jackson are also considering specifically the judiciary as a career,” Walling said. “There are many well-paying and important positions within the judiciary that need a new generation of leaders to assist the public with legal concerns.”

Billings’ internship has included working on archiving court records and judges’ opinions in the Phoenix clerk’s office of the Court of Appeals, Division One, which has jurisdiction over cases originating in eight of the state’s 15 counties. Billings also assists clerks in active cases, working on files and documentation.

“I’ve been surprised how many people appeal cases. I also had no idea how long case briefs were for appeals cases. Some of them are more than a thousand pages,” he said.

He expects that to prepare him for his future, too.

“It helps me see and understand lawyers’ writing. And going through those opinions, I see how they interpret those laws,” he said. “That’s going to be a big part of my future in law school, as an attorney and potentially as a judge someday.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


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