Rebecca DeCoster (Class of 2011)
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.