Since I knew very little about public interest law as a 1L, I took advantage of the opportunity as a second year law student to learn more by signing up for the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic. What was unique about this particular clinic is that the seminar portion required us to meet each week as a group to discuss and learn about the many different areas of public interest law. This was an effective supplement to my internship and gave special insight into the rewards (and risks) of so many public interest law professions. Most of all, it highlighted the importance of engaging in meaningful work as an attorney in our world today. It was in this seminar that I discovered my strong interest in assisting victims of domestic violence as a public interest lawyer.
As part of this course, I obtained an internship at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) in Cambridge, MA, where I worked directly under the supervision of the family law attorney as a student attorney practicing under SJC Rule 3:03. At CLSACC, I was responsible for drafting various documents including motions, affidavits, pretrial memoranda, stipulation agreements, client letters, and financial statements for clients who were victims of domestic violence. I observed and conducted numerous client interviews and was also responsible for client screening procedures. I was often in Probate & Family Court, filing paperwork with the clerk’s office, accompanying a client, and/or appearing before a judge on the client’s behalf.
My experience at CLSACC opened the door to many opportunities and I formed lasting relationships with the attorneys and staff there throughout the process. For example, I accepted a position as a paid nighttime receptionist at CLSACC after my internship was over; this was a great way to stay connected to the line of work, and the paychecks significantly helped my budget. All in all, it was my experience at this specific internship (in combination with the knowledge I obtained through the seminar component of the clinic) that sparked my passion for assisting victims of domestic violence. It shaped the rest of my internships and jobs throughout my law school career.
After my internship at CLSACC, I found that my experience, reflected on my resume, was a critical asset in gaining summer jobs and employment opportunities. The summer after the Public Interest Law clinic, I was hired at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to work in the family law unit as one of three student attorneys in the Divorce Work Group. When interviewing for this position, my employer expressed particular interest in my role at CLSACC and felt this experience working at a legal services agency qualified me to represent GBLS clients with similar backgrounds.
I worked at GBLS for three months during the summer as a paid student attorney, through work study. I managed over 12 cases and represented my clients in court for divorce, child support, custody, visitation, and occasionally paternity matters. In my capacity as an SJC 3:03 student attorney I learned what I could not in my classes: how to interact with clients, advocate on their behalf, and most of all, to effectively represent this uniquely marginalized clientele.
Job prospects continue to build upon the experience I gained through the Public Interest Law clinic. For my last year of law school I studied at California Western School of Law in San Diego, where I also interned at the San Diego Family Justice Center (FJC), one of several centers dedicated to providing comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence. There, I filed Temporary Restraining Orders at FJC’s walk-in legal clinic for victims.
I recently graduated from New England Law and am now studying for the CA bar. I hope to continue my work in this very meaningful field of public interest law. I feel confident that the specialized knowledge and experience I gained over the past two years and the important connections I have made in the process will allow me to pursue this evolving passion.