New England Law | Boston students perform public service work through clinical courses, student groups, and employment, both paid and volunteer.
Students may obtain transcript recognition for approved public service legal work through the Public Service Transcript Notation Program.
Rebecca DeCoster (Class of 2011)
I entered law school with an established interest in public interest work. My idealistic side entered school believing I would leave with a skill set to help the less fortunate with some of their problems in a way that truly affected them, rather than simply referring them to people who could potentially help them. My realistic side realized very early on that working in public interest had the potential to be emotionally draining and with little monetary gain. New England Law | Boston provided me the opportunity to test my commitment to working in the public interest sector while learning marketable skills.
Starting my 1L year I began volunteering with Shelter Legal Services, a nonprofit ran by a New England Law | Boston alumna. I worked at Rosie's Place, a women's shelter. Through that experience, I learned issue-spotting skills, etiquette and decorum when working with an under-served population, and the importance of being timely and consistent when you volunteer your time.
Starting my 2L year I began signing up for our clinical program. First semester, I enrolled in the school’s Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic. I was placed at Greater Boston Legal Services where my background in health sciences and working with persons with disabilities landed me on the health and disability floor, where I was introduced to the world of Social Security law. There, I learned time management skills when balancing several cases, appropriate client communications, and how to read statutory laws and regulations.
Second semester, I was in the Health Law Clinic where I was placed at the school’s Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy. This was a very different experience as our 'client' was the state of New York and its tobacco regulations. Through this placement I learned about creating model language for policies and ordinances, the value of asking for assistance from individuals with more experience and knowledge, and the importance of staying self-motivated when you have loose-ended time lines.
My placement in the clinics and my volunteering led to a paid summer internship after my second year at Legal Aid of North Carolina. The hiring attorney specifically stated that my previous experience showed that I would come with a skill set that would allow me to "hit the ground running" and that I was dedicated to working in the public interest sector. Beyond opening the door to more legal experiences, my exposure to public interest work has taught me that while it will be an emotionally tough road, it will also be one that is personally satisfying and I no longer have to guess if this is the right field for me to pursue.