I came to law school for the sole reason of pursuing a career in public interest law. I had worked in several jobs between college and law school and none of them gave me the sense of satisfaction nor purpose I was searching for. So I decided to come to law school to expand my capabilities and to prepare to use them to help others who were less fortunate than I. Three years later and on the cusp of graduation, I maintain that focus and desire to use my skills for the benefit of others.
I began my actual public interest work experience right after the end of my first year of law school. Over the summer I volunteered at the legal clinics run by Shelter Legal Services both at Rosie’s Place and the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Through my law school career I have continued to work with Shelter Legal Services and rose through the ranks to become first the Client Services Manager for New England School of Law and then the director of the clinic at the New England Shelter for Homeless. I plan on volunteering my time with the organization after I graduate as well.
At New England School of Law, I further pursued my interest in public interest law by taking the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic. My clinical placement was as a student attorney at the New England School of Law Law Clinic which serves indigent and low income clients. I became SJC 3:03 certified through the clinic and represented clients in court on a wide variety of civil matters. In the seminar portion of the course, I researched and wrote on the ways the legal profession could make strides in curbing or eliminating the scourge of homelessness.
After my second year, I secured a paying job at the Legal Advocacy and Resource Center (LARC). LARC is a legal hotline for Massachusetts that serves multiple purposes. LARC is a hotline which is the screening and intake body for the major legal aid places in Massachusetts. If a client is not eligible for an intake, then they are given legal information about their problem so that they may more competently able to represent themselves and are given referrals to other legal resources.
In my third year, I continue to work for LARC two days a week and volunteer at Shelter Legal Services and represent indigent clients in court. I am also in my second year as a member of the Journal of Civil and Criminal confinement. I wrote my journal note on the discrepancy between the treatment of minors in criminal and civil law with an aim at having the death penalty abolished.
Though it may seem like a heavy load to volunteer and/or work in public interest law during law school it is generally not an overwhelming experience. Public interest organizations are always looking for willing volunteers and often paid employees; all you have to do is seek them out and your interest will be rewarded with experience. I urge all law students, whatever your interest be to at least look into public interest and see how your legal skills can be put to good use. I did and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable.