Mock Trial Prowess and Faculty Support
Help Honors Student Secure Prestigious Internship
When Gary Dunn ’13CPS enrolled at St. John’s, he was confident the
University would prepare him well for a career in law.
The Legal Studies Program was well-known for sending students
to top law schools, and the highly ranked Mock Trial Team had a
solid record of victories in national competitions.
He learned about St. John’s from two attorneys—both alumni—who ran
a firm where Dunn interned while still in high school. “They knew I
had a passion for the law,” said the Stony Brook, NY, native. “They
strongly recommended the University.”
Dunn embraced those opportunities. As Co-Captain of the Mock Trial
Team, Dunn led his fellow members to the top of the Atlantic
Regional Tournament and to the national championship finals. He
also earned the highest individual student attorney award for three
consecutive years. In June 2012, Dunn and the team received a New
York City Council proclamation honoring its record of
“Gary’s ability—as evidenced by the outstanding arguments presented
throughout his career—played a critical role in the team’s success,
and was often recognized by the judges and coaches of opposing
teams,” said the Mock Trial Team’s coach, Bernard G. Helldorfer,
Esq., ’77CBA, ’80L, Professor and Director of the Legal Studies
Program in the Division of
Criminal Justice and Legal Studies.
Helldorfer added, “Gary’s achievements are a testament to his own
enormous talent, and demonstrate that St. John’s students can and
do successfully compete in an academic arena frequently viewed as
This semester, Dunn became the only undergraduate to receive a
prestigious, 12-credit internship at the U.S. Department of
Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section in Washington, DC.
“I’m so proud and thankful to have been able to represent St.
John’s University—and the College of
Professional Studies—as the only undergraduate the Justice
Department selected from hundreds of applicants across the
country,” said Dunn.
A Legal Studies major and
honors student with a 4.0 GPA, Dunn excelled in the Justice
Department’s intensely competitive environment—the other interns
were students at the nation’s top law schools. In recognition of
his achievements, Dunn was one of the two student co-recipients of
the gold medal from the College of Professional Studies at the
University’s 143rd Commencement Ceremonies at the Queens, NY,
campus on Sunday, May 19.
St. John’s professors and alumni, said Dunn, played a vital role in
guiding him toward success. In particular, he cited the Mock Trial
Coaches: Oscar Holt, Esq., ’73Ed, ’79L; Kareem Vessup, Esq. ‘01CPS,
’04L; and Helldorfer. “Prof. Helldorfer has been my mentor
since my freshman year,” said Dunn. “From my work on the Mock Trial
Team to my internship applications, he has always been there to
provide support and direction.”
Dunn went on to express gratitude to
Kathleen McGovern ’88CBA, ’91L, Senior Deputy Chief for
Litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division,
Fraud Section, whom he met a St. John’s Alumni Insider’s View (AIV) gathering in
Washington, D.C. She was instrumental in helping him to secure the
Justice Department internship. Miquel Toruno ’98L, another alumnus
he met at the event, was an attorney with the U.S. House of
Representatives who showed Dunn around the Capital. Dunn also
Mary Noe, Esq., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and
Legal Studies and an Adjunct Professor in St. John’s School of
Law, for helping him to obtain a previous internship with the
Southern District Federal Court in New York City.
The internship, Dunn said, meant a great deal more than an
impressive addition to his résumé. The experience expanded upon the
already impressive professional network available through St.
John’s, while strengthening skills that will serve him well in law
school and as a professional. “The practical legal research
experience was incredible,” he said. “An attorney I worked with
asked me to help write a cross-examination outline.”
In addition, Dunn was able to see a leading attorney argue in
appellate court. Yet he especially will remember meeting two
Supreme Court Justices—Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. “If you
would have told me four years ago that I’d shake hands with someone
like that,” he said, “I would have had a hard time believing
Now that his internship is over, Dunn plans to take the LSAT
examination. He readily acknowledges that his experiences on the
St. John’s Mock Trial Team, along with strong support from faculty
and alumni, have given him the skills and confidence to pursue his
dream of becoming a Federal prosecutor. One day, he said, he hopes
to argue a case before the Supreme Court.
“I owe the opportunities I’ve enjoyed to St. John’s, and the
mentors I met there,” he said. “They’ve helped me open a world of