I think I have learned a lot during this internship. I was able to talk with other attorneys and law students about their experiences which provided me a better understanding of what I want to do in the future. The attorney I am primarily working with provided me with a lot of mentorship and advice about law school; I have decided that I want to take a year off between undergrad and law school.
My experience this summer also helped solidify my desire to work in public interest law which I was debating prior to this internship. It was really inspiring to hear and just be around the passion within the law firm in trying to create a more equitable world. I never felt as though the work I was doing did not matter and I was able to see direct results from what I was working on. It was reassuring to see that my mentor was able explore other interests while practicing such as going to pastry school and was open to taking breaks from practicing law to contribute more time to other interests. I found that really inspiring because going to law school and practicing law felt like such a looming decision but hearing his story made me realize that I have more flexibility than I initially thought.
I am so thankful for how much work I was able to do with client interaction by myself. I completed approximately three DACA renewal applications every week and worked on side projects along the way, meeting different clients throughout. I felt more eager to work at the Legal Aid Society because I knew the impact we were making on people’s lives – it kept me motivated and focused to try and get the best possible outcome. I think I have a much better grasp of what it means to be an immigration attorney working in a non-profit law firm, and it is definitely something I see myself doing in the future. I would love to be able to work at the Legal Aid Society in the future and I have decided to continue my internship into the fall semester.
The advice I would give to students who are interested in an internship at the Legal Aid Society or another non-profit law firm is to take advantage of being in that space. Ask the attorneys about their journey to the Legal Aid Society. You can learn so much from hearing other people’s stories and make new discoveries about what you want to do based on that. More likely than not people at the organization would be happy to give advice. It is also important to show initiative and interest in the work you are doing. For example, if you are really interested in working on a certain type of case, let your supervisor know. If your internship allows you to, I would also encourage you to have more meetings with clients. Meetings with different clients is such an invaluable experience. Your interpersonal skills grow and it teaches you how to be more empathetic and how to create a safe environment that allows others to speak freely.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in the Legal Aid Society or working in public interest law to seek an internship. The network and experience you build from internships can bring so much more clarity.