Throughout the semester, under the guidance of competent and licensed attorneys, I was able to represent indigent clients engaged in a host of legal matters, ranging from divorce proceedings and child support enforcement to a Social Security benefits application and appeal. I appeared in court, conversed with opposing counsel, presented an oral argument to a Massachusetts Superior Court judge, filed motions, and drafted a complaint. The experience was invaluable, helping to shape my understanding of this important area of practice and those whose legal rights it serves to protect. In addition to the Public Interest Clinical Program, I was a New England Law | Boston Public Interest Law Association (PILA) grant recipient. The award paralleled my summer work as a judicial intern for the Honorable Robert Foley of New Hampshire's Seventh Circuit Court, in Dover, NH. Judge Foley is a marital master who exclusively hears family law cases. The work was intellectually and emotionally draining, but at the same time exhilarating.
Thanks to the PILA grant, I was able to serve in a volunteer capacity for Master Foley, gaining valuable and uncensored exposure to family law. I drafted opinions; wrote memos and briefs on focused legal questions of constitutional law, tax, property, and procedure; and sat in on every hearing on his docket for three months. I walked away from the internship with a new appreciation for the immense challenges confronting family law practitioners and judges.
Beyond the two core opportunities, I continued to perform volunteer legal work throughout my three years at law school. The work met the definition of Massachusetts Rule of Professional Responsibility and I earned the school’s Public Service Transcript Notation for each of my three years. I also received credit for an internship through the school’s Mediation and Dispute Resolution Clinic. Although I would not consider this to be “public interest,” it also proved to be another valuable learning experience.
My public interest experiences at New England Law were tremendous. I highly encourage all students to take full advantage of the comprehensive menu of available public interest options. Regardless of your ultimate practice area, the experience will be time well spent. A semester (or two, or three!) engaged in public interest work will vividly color your law school years, helping to prepare you for life in practice in a way that traditional coursework cannot.