Ligia Rodriguez (Class of 2011)
My public law experience began through my participation in the legal clinics held by Shelter Legal Services, Inc. (SLS). SLS is a nonprofit organization providing legal assistance to low-income and homeless individuals in Massachusetts. I started as a law student advocate at the clinic at Rosie’s Place, a private women’s shelter, and during the school year I continued to work at the clinic at the Cambridge Multi-Service Center. I obtained experience in a wide variety of cases, ranging from family law matters to small claims, housing, social security disability, and evictions. As a native Spanish speaker, I extensively used my language skills to provide assistance to clients who otherwise would not be able to secure legal assistance. I not only gained invaluable work experience, but New England Law | Boston also recognized my volunteer work and provided me with a public service notation on my transcripts.
I enjoyed working at SLS a few hours per week; however, I wanted to gain additional experience, which was difficult during the busy school schedule. After volunteering for over a year at SLS, I obtained a full-time summer internship position at SLS. Sarah Roxburgh, a SLS supervising attorney and a New England alumna, supported my applications to obtain funding for my unpaid summer internship at SLS. I was fortunate to obtain funding through the New England Law | Boston PILA Grant and I was chosen as one of the recipients of the ABA John J. Curtin, Jr. Justice Fund Legal Intern Program for a stipend. My summer internship was very rewarding as I had my own caseload and I was exposed to a wide range of public service law, and during this time I realized that I enjoyed family law.
After taking some family law related courses, I decided to register for the family law clinic for the fall semester of my final year. The family law clinic offers off-site placement, and I had the opportunity to obtain a position at the Divorce Work Group at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). My experience at GBLS has been invaluable. I had my own caseload, met with clients, drafted legal documents, and assisted clients at all stages of the process. I also had the opportunity to represent clients as a student attorney under the student practice rule, Massachusetts Supreme Court Rule 3:03. Furthermore, I assisted many of the Spanish-speaking clients who were victims of domestic violence in their family law cases.
After my family law clinic ended, I was able to continue to work at GBLS for another semester. Having almost completed two semesters in the Family Law Unit at GBLS has allowed me to increase my practical knowledge in family law and has provided insight into more complex legal tasks.
New England Law | Boston makes an effort to organize informational panels and provide information on the different public service opportunities. The professors and alumni have been very supportive in helping me and other students in finding opportunities in public service.