The most advantageous aspect of interning at MCAD is how much interns are able to observe and become directly involved in the process. Throughout the course of our internships, we are scheduled to attend an investigative conference, a mediation conference, and an appeals hearing. These opportunities have allowed to me progress through my defined learning goals. Not only do I get a chance to read dozens of different cases, but I also get to see how different processes and steps work. During the mediation conference, I got to see a complainant and a respondent settle on a monetary amount after the complainant’s case was found by MCAD to have probable cause of discrimination. While I cannot go into great detail about the cases or the conferences, it has been great to get a chance to observe and ask the mediators and attorneys questions afterwards. Everyone is very willing to help and explain how the organization deals with differing situations. I am becoming more and more familiar with discrimination law, both on the state and federal level, just from my work with cases as I am usually the first person to see a case when it is sent to the housing department.
My goals for this internship included not only learning about discrimination law, but also figuring out if I am interested in pursuing a career in this area. I already know that I want to go to law school and that I am interested in civil rights, but I wanted to see if I liked both working in anti-discrimination law and working for the state. As far as working for the state, I have found it a bit difficult to deal with the bureaucracy in general but admire the work that is done. I am learning that working for the state means being connected to different state and federal organizations as well. For example, when MCAD takes a housing case, we also have to file with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). This means entering the case both into our system and HUD’s system (TEAPOTS), then waiting for approval. As the case goes on, there are tons of different steps that have to be taken. This allows the case to be reviewed by different organizations such as HUD and the BFHC (Boston Fair Housing Commission).
As far as working with anti-discrimination law, it still may be something I am interested in pursuing, but not at the state level. Cases tend to take an extremely long time just to be investigated because of how many cases each investigator is assigned to. I also want to be able to do other types of law and litigation along with anti-discrimination law.
Despite some reservations, I still find the internship to be enjoyable. Because there are so many interns, I have gotten a chance to become very close with some of them and we have lunch and go out all the time. I also feel that because I am in the housing department which is smaller, I have had to work harder to adjust and learn how to do things. This was difficult at first, but now I see it as a new skill (thinking on my feet) that I have had to develop as a result. This is something I believe will help me greatly in future internships and jobs. I also am honing skills in my attention to detail. At MCAD, it is crucial that everything be entered correctly. Even in intake, if we do something wrong when writing the complaint, often we cannot just change it but have to go through an amendment process because we are working with legal documents. This has taught me to be extremely cautious with my work, especially when people’s cases can be effected by the complaint I write for them.
Finally, I am most proud of the work I have been able to do on intake. As I mentioned in my first post, I am on intake for one full day a week and have to see clients and write complaints for them. First, the attorneys who review the complaints I write give me great feedback and have told me that my complaints are very well written. Also, I am especially proud of one of the complaints I wrote. The complaint went to the housing department so I got to enter it in and one of the best investigators took the case. She has scheduled an investigative conference in August so that I will be able to attend. I think the case is very strong for the complainant and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.