Lisa Paciello (Class of 2006)
I came to law school with the intention of gaining experience in public interest legal work. I had participated in many interesting volunteer programs during college, and viewed law school as an opportunity to continue working for the causes that I cared about.
During the second semester of my first year, I began volunteering in the Elder Law Unit at the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts (LACCM). I worked full- time at LACCM during the summer after my first year and assumed a variety of responsibilities. I advised elderly clients dealing with housing problems and also healthcare and Social Security benefit issues. The most memorable experience of the summer was representing an elderly client in a worker’s compensation case. I learned to advocate on behalf of clients before administrative agencies and finally felt as if I was putting all the legal skills I had acquired during my first year of law school to practical use. Right before the internship ended, I learned that the hearing had been decided in favor of my client.
When I returned to school in the fall, I enrolled in the Environmental Law Clinic and was placed at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. My main task at the DEP was drafting a closing brief to be submitted in a Superfund Law penalty assessment case. When the case settled prior to the hearing, I drafted a proposed settlement agreement.
During my next semester, I had the opportunity to intern in the chambers of the Honorable Charles B. Swartwood, III, now a retired Federal Magistrate Judge. This internship provided me with the chance to interact with the Judge and his law clerk on a daily basis. I observed civil trials and criminal proceedings. My writing assignments included drafting orders on petitions for habeas corpus relief and writing a bench memorandum and proposed order in a civil rights case.
The summer after my second year, I interned in the Elder Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. I again had the chance to represent a client at a hearing before an administrative agency. This time, I advocated on behalf of a client whose MassHealth benefits had been terminated. The issue was resolved in favor of my client that same day, and my client once again began receiving health insurance benefits.
The public interest legal experiences I have had during my three years at New England School of Law have enabled me to work in a variety of settings. These experiences have only furthered my interest in pursing a public interest legal career upon graduation from NESL.