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Melissa Lee Kiefer (Class of 2012)

Day Division
I came directly from my undergraduate university to law school and knew that I wanted to become involved in the community. I was fortunate enough to find some student groups that performed outreach, and quickly found that the Irish Law Society was partnering with Harvard Legal Aid to provide information to tenants and homeowners facing eviction for foreclosure.

After working for a private firm for the summer after my first year of law school, I was able to participate in the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic. I was placed with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) in their housing unit. I worked with two attorneys on foreclosure cases, where we worked with homeowners to obtain new mortgages, fight eviction from their homes, and negotiate settlements with some of the largest lenders. While working with GBLS I had the unbelievable opportunity to research legislative history for an amicus brief to the Supreme Judicial Court for a case that recently changed the scope of the housing court. I also was able to teach a pro se clinic to tenants facing eviction and argue a motion before the housing court in Boston.

After finishing my clinic with GBLS I found the legal aid community to be welcoming to experienced students, and obtained a six month position with Medical Legal Partnership | Boston. I was able to work with almost every attorney on the small staff and on substantive areas of law from housing to public benefits, immigration, and disability law. I received credit for this internship through the school’s Health Law Clinic for the fall semester of my third year of law school.

Most recently I worked for the Legal Advocacy and Resource Center (LARC), which provides phone assistance and referrals to low income persons with civil legal aid issues. While working at LARC I conducted intakes, found appropriate services, and explained the legal process to clients. I worked with LARC during the last semester of law school and really felt like I was a part of the legal aid community.

I plan to move back to New Jersey and become involved in the legal aid community in both New Jersey and New York. I have found public interest law to be one of the most fulfilling endeavors that one can accomplish in law school. It helps you understand compassion, the realities of the legal field, and the needs of the everyday client. I encourage everyone to participate in a public interest related job or clinic for both the help that they provide to the community and one’s own personal growth and development.

(May 2012)