A Summer to Remember: Reflecting on my Internsip

This summer has been eventful, exciting, busy, and most of all, rewarding. As an intern with Legal Outreach’s Summer Law Institute, I have grown tremendously both professionally and personally. It has been a rewarding experience because I was able to become a role model for twenty-five students. Seeing them grow and progress into young professionals was wonderful, as it helped me feel as though my duties and work led to tangible and beneficial results that helped improve the lives of young people. It is difficult to believe that 10 weeks have passed by so quickly. I will deeply miss many of the friends and amazing people I met during this internship.

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Prior to beginning my internship, my learning goals included strengthening myself academically, personally, and professionally. Academically, I wanted to develop better writing, editing, and researching skills. Since a large part of my responsibilities included drafting and sending invitations, thank you letters, and other types of correspondence, those target skills were strengthened since I was required to employ them quickly. It also allowed me to practice writing professionally, which is certainly a useful skill.

My personal learning goals included developing stronger communication skills, particularly with younger people, and public speaking skills. I was able to do so throughout the course of my internship due to another major part of my duties, which were teaching and interacting with diverse personalities. By teaching one lesson a week during the Summer Law Institute, I was able to develop stronger teaching and public speaking skills as I took command of the classroom and in fact even taught our students a class on public speaking. I also further developed my communication skills, as I sometimes had to interact with different personalities. For the most part, everyone I communicated with, particularly our guest speakers and generous volunteers, were absolutely fantastic and a pleasure to work with. However, through the few times that I had to have somewhat difficult conversations, I learned to develop and use patience as a key skill in communication, one that I believe I previously was not as strong in. As a result of my interactions, I believe each one of them was valuable and helped me become a better communicator in different types of situations.

Professionally, in terms of my career goals, this internship has been extremely valuable and significant. Prior to beginning, I wanted to learn from this experience whether or not law is what I would like to pursue. I especially wanted to learn more about the practice of law and what it is like to be an attorney. Through my work experience, I was able to interact and work closely with various attorneys. My supervisors, whom I worked closely with and learned a great deal from, are attorneys who practice non-traditionally as leaders of a non-profit agency. Most of our guest speakers during the Institute are attorneys who practice traditionally at law firms and they represented different fields and practice areas, which I found fascinating and very helpful. Through this internship, I was also able to visit a law firm for the first time and get a sense of the environment and what it is like. I also was able to visit important courthouses in New York City and meet very important and prominent judges. My interactions and experiences have helped me better understand what being an attorney is about, what it takes, and most importantly, why it matters and what it means to me. For this reason alone, I find this entire experience invaluable.

In addition to the above mentioned goals, I also did something I did not really think about or expect–I made friends with my colleagues. My two co-coordinators at my Institute became good friends of mine, as did my fellow interns. Working closely and keeping good relations taught me that having solid and friendly working relationships are central to making any workplace run smoothly.

Want to know more?  Check out this video or read SLI’s 2015 newsletter – a summary and celebration of the Institute.

– Aditi Shah ’17

Midpoint Entry–Teaching and Learning at the Same Time

It is difficult to imagine that I have already reached the halfway point for my internship at Legal Outreach, Inc., time has gone by so quickly. Since the Summer Law Institute (SLI) began during the end of June, my two co-coordinators, our 28 students, and I have embarked on a valuable and exciting educational journey.  Check out this great video about our program!

When the Institute began, the significance of all of the work that my colleagues and I had been doing suddenly became realized since it was being put into action. We were all a bit nervous on the first day, especially since it was our first time actually teaching and handling a classroom full of teenagers. However, after seeing how enthusiastic and bright our students were, we realized that we were not alone on this endeavor. Since the first day, our mission to educate and encourage our students has continuously inspired our efforts.

I give an academic skills lesson every Tuesday, and my first one was on study skills. I had rehearsed this one previously with my supervisors and colleagues, but I was unsure about how our students would react, especially since this was only the second day of SLI. Fortunately, the lesson went well and the students seemed interested in learning about new ways to study and its importance.

Teaching these students, listening to lessons, and above all, becoming responsible for twenty-eight young adults has taught me a tremendous amount about the value of education. Being in the shoes of a teacher has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for the work of teachers, as I now understand much better how much time and dedication is required both inside and outside of school hours.

Lesson at SLI
Lesson at SLI

Through my responsibilities, I have also been able to develop many of the skills I wanted to prior to beginning this internship. For example, I have further developed my organizational skills to complete the variety of tasks and duties with efficiency. I have also been able to strengthen my communication and public speaking skills, since that is essential to be a good teacher and lead a classroom. Most importantly, I believe that so far, through my experiences in this internship and by being surrounded in a legally-charged atmosphere, I have become more interested in pursuing law in the future. Interacting with and learning from inspiring attorneys and legal professionals has given me the opportunity to learn more about the profession and to explore my own passions and interests.

Moreover, one of the most rewarding aspects of this internship so far has been the opportunity to mentor students and learn from them at the same time. Many of them are so intelligent and inquisitive, and their questions often lead us to wonder and think in ways we did not previously. This is notable not only in the classroom, but also on our exciting field trips, such as our first one to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week. This experience has certainly taught me that in any working process, including teaching, there is both giving and receiving.

SLI Students at Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Field Trip

– Aditi Shah ’17

Social Justice through Legal Education: My first week at Legal Outreach, Inc.

My first week as an intern at Legal Outreach, Inc., in Long Island City, New York has been been filled with exciting and important work and interaction with many incredible individuals. Legal Outreach, Inc., is a legal education non-profit organization that has been successfully teaching and preparing urban youth from underserved communities all over New York City since 1983. The organization does so through its various college preparatory programs, many of which emphasize the law and developing an understanding and appreciation of the legal system. The program that I will specifically be working with is the Summer Law Institute (SLI).

Legal Outreach, Inc. Website

 

The Legal Outreach Logo
The Legal Outreach Logo

 

Legal Outreach’s SLI is held in partnership with six different law schools in New York City from the end of June to the end of July. In each law school, there are about 22-30 rising ninth graders who were selected from a pool of applicants for this program. At each law school where the SLI is held, there are two co-coordinators who are current law school students and an intern. Together, these three are the instructors for each SLI and are responsible for teaching the students and managing their SLI.

Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)
Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)

At SLI, students are engaged in a criminal justice legal course and gain an understanding of the legal system and how laws are applied. Almost every day of the week, there is a guest attorney speaker and weekly field trips to law firms and other legal sites. At the end of the program is a mock trial competition which takes place in front of a real judge. The aim of SLI is to help these students grow academically and personally to give them the confidence and skills for success in high school, college, and beyond.

Legal Outreach Celebrating 30 Years (source: http://legaloutreach.org/?page_id=16)

My main responsibilities as the SLI intern at Columbia Law School include both administrative duties, to ensure that the program runs smoothly, and teaching lessons. The administrative duties include preparing handbooks and ID cards for the students, inviting the guest speakers, ensuring that parents and students complete necessary forms, and booking field trips. This is all to make sure that the technical and structural aspects of the program are intact, so that in the end of June when SLI commences, everything is ready.

My teaching responsibilities include developing four lesson plans that will be presented to the students during SLI. The first two will be on study skills and essay writing, which will be useful for the students in studying for their weekly exams and writing their assigned essays. Since part of the purpose of the program is to prepare these students for high school, these skills will be particularly important and assist them in achieving academic excellence.

Through my administrative and teaching responsibilities, I will play an important role in making sure that the SLI runs smoothly so that the students get the most out of the program. I will also, through my role, be able to accomplish the learning goals I had set coming into this internship. For example, through the training exercises and meetings we have been doing, as well as through actually teaching the lessons later on, I will be able to develop stronger communication and public speaking skills. At the same time, through my administrative duties, I will improve my research and writing skills as I communicate with potential guest speakers and develop lesson plans. Likewise, by working in a legal environment with colleagues who are in law school and supervisors who are attorneys, I have the unique opportunity to further explore my interest in having a career in the legal field. I look forward to the days to come and for the SLI to begin.

– Aditi Shah ’17