I decided to go to law school for one reason and one reason only: to do public service work. I'm happy to say that I remain true to my word. It's not really a desire for me but a necessity.
At New England School of Law, I obtained public service experience and training through summer jobs, the clinical programs and volunteer work. In the summer after my first year of law school, I obtained a grant from the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) to work in the Family Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services. I represented indigent litigants in a variety of family law matters. I was able to continue working in the GBLS Family Unit my second year by enrolling in the Family Law Clinic in Fall Semester. This time I received credit for my work, and was certified under the student practice rule, SJC Rule 3:03.
During the summer after my first year I also began working at Shelter Legal Services, an organization that provides legal assistance to homeless women and men. I continued to volunteer at Shelter Legal Services during my second year and over the summer after second year.
I also enrolled in a second clinic in the spring of my second year: the Lawyering Process clinic. In this clinic, I was able to obtain a different position at Greater Boston Legal Services, working in the Immigration Unit. I enjoyed that work so much that I stayed on for the summer, this time funded by Fellowships from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and Equal Justice Works, Inc. I continued to work at the GBLS Immigration Unit in the fall of my 3rd year, this time as a Work-Study student.
In the Spring semester of 3rd year I traveled abroad, obtaining credits in Lieden through the South Texas College of Law’s program abroad. My courses included an internship with the defense counsel of the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Defending war criminals...is that public service? I consider it to be the ultimate form of public defender work, and well within my chosen field of public service.
After 3 years in law school, several internship experiences and a host of people telling me that it doesn't pay the bills, I can honestly say that I haven't lost my motivation. If anything these experiences have only strengthened commitment to the cause.
One of the things I've enjoyed most about my work has been its ability to make me care about a stranger. All of the sudden you find yourself worrying about how a client is going to find a job, pay the bills, stay in the country, or take care of loved ones. You have to get emotionally attached. You have to become personally invested. You have to become the antithesis of what a traditional legal education teaches you to be and for that I am grateful.
I don't care if people tell me that eventually I'll grow tired of being broke all the time. I disregard those who say that I can work for a firm, make money, pay off my loans and then do the work that I care about. To me a commitment to public service is kind of like a marriage - you vow to be together in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for richer or for poorer...that's just how it is.