After I completed my second year of law school, I volunteered at Greater Boston Legal Services (“GBLS”) in the Employment Unit for the summer. My experience at GBLS was invaluable because I met with clients, argued unemployment cases before an administrative panel, but most of all I was able to provide direct assistance to individuals who did not understand the law. Although school taught me the black letter law, actually working with clients was a fresh and exciting experience. I regularly worked with Spanish and Creole speakers. Working with Spanish speakers allowed me to practice the language and help clients who felt hopeless because of the language and legal barriers. GBLS was a great public interest opportunity as I was able to work with dedicated attorneys on a daily basis.
My next public interest opportunity was in the area of immigration law working on an asylum case. In the spring semester of my third year, I participated in New England's Immigration Project under the guidance of Professor Dina Haynes and Attorney Marlee Furman from Community Legal Services and Counseling Center. I studied and worked in the immigration field during law school, but never worked on an asylum case. Asylum law is complex and very fact dependent because the asylum applicant bears the burden of proof that persecution has occurred on account of the applicant’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. During this project, a team of students and I researched various issues for an asylum seeker. We offered suggestions to improve the affidavit and gathered research for a court submission. The project was a unique challenge that forced me to consider several worst case scenarios during my research.
Overall, the public interest opportunities at the school have been a tremendous educational benefit. Most of all the public interest opportunities at the school offer legal assistance to those who need it the most. (March, 2010)