(3) Overall Experience at the Greenfield Court Service Center

Throughout this summer internship, I have learned so much, and learning feels like the number one thing I do every day. What stands out to me the most out of my entire experience is that you are not going to be able to help everyone. Sometimes you have to recognize when you are not the one to help, and either the person may have to figure it out on their own or there may be other resources for people to turn to. What is upsetting is people who we help in this work who we turn away do not have the resources to get the proper help. It can be hard to put your own personal feelings aside and not try to do everything in your power and do something small. An important and difficult skill to develop is learning how to turn people away. Along with putting feelings aside, it can be difficult to help someone who has done something terrible. Learning to respond in an appropriate and professional way to anyone who comes in is also essential. 

The stacks of resources to go through

One of the biggest impacts I had was updating all of the in-person resources/pamphlets and helping to create templates of information that future interns will use to guide litigants. Some of these resources have not been updated since 2016 or before the pandemic. A lot has changed, and many people turn to these physical handouts to further educate themselves. One of the big projects I undertook when days were slow was to go through stacks of papers, see if what is there is the most up to date information, and update the information if necessary. The templates will make it easier for the next interns to understand the basics of what litigants will need in basic scenarios. This will benefit the interns and will serve as a better helping hand to the managers and supervisors from the start.

Something I wish I knew before I started this internship was that this internship requires you to constantly learn as you go, and that nearly every case that comes in will not be super cut and dry. I expected to know every kind of situation in a general sense going in so I could be prepared for anyone. This simply is not possible. You must be prepared to adapt and try to do everything to the best of your abilities. At the end of the day it’s okay to make mistakes because white out will always be there!

The view in person at the Greenfield Court Service Center

If I could share pieces of advice for the next person who wants to pursue an internship or career in the Court Service Centers, there are two big things I would want to share. First, sometimes you are the person who takes the heat for not being able to assist someone and know that this is not your fault. And second, advocate for yourself and do not be afraid to help someone with an issue you have not seen before. Again, the biggest thing you will be doing is learning, so do not be afraid to dive right in. Overall, I am very appreciative of the experiences that have come out of this internship. I have been able to grow as a more confident person, and most importantly, I have been able to get a better understanding of the characteristics that I want in my future career.

(2) A Positive Mindset

Something I have learned at Brandeis both in and out of the classroom is that when you go into a new job, you are not going to know how to do everything, and that is okay. In one of my classes, we had a guest speaker who is now a very successful businessman. At the end of his presentation, the one thing he said he wished someone had told him before he started on his career path was, “you are not going to know everything when you start somewhere new, and nobody is going to expect you to know everything at first.” This really stuck with me because he was someone who has made millions of dollars and made a great future for himself. It reassured me that even people who are the most successful do not know everything, and no matter if the people around me have amazing past experiences, we were both hired in the same place for a reason.

Coffee to start every morning on the right foot!

Hearing this from a successful businessman and other people in the Brandeis community was really significant for me for many reasons. First, entering a new job for the summer in an area that I am somewhat unfamiliar with, but want to learn more about, was very daunting for me. Having this advice before starting my internship was extremely helpful in calming my nerves and put me in a good mindset. When I am working, there are many things that come up every day that I do not know the answer to. Coming in with this mindset has allowed me to not be afraid to ask questions, which is something challenging for me. Also, I have realized that the more questions I ask, the more I show that I truly want to learn, grow, and know what to do the next time a similar situation arises. This has allowed me to approach the internship and tasks with more confidence because I know they hired me for a reason, and when I am asked to do something, they believe that I am capable of doing it, so I should be too!

Many tabs = working hard

This mindset that I have come in with has also allowed me to reflect on the work that goes on within the Court Service Center. I realized that the women who supervise me are also real lawyers, and they know a lot about many different areas of law. However, it has obviously taken them years to get to this point, and they do not expect us to know everything they do. They have said if we did know even fifty percent of what they did, we would be lawyers already. That being said, for the most part, there are only two women who work directly above me and anywhere from two to six interns working with them. This means these women really do so much work even before/after hours or during lunch breaks because they do not have enough time during the day. On top of normal workload, they have to keep up to date with all the new court rules and understand many different types of law and the processes within them. They are able to do so much for so many people, but sometimes they could use one more person who knows as much as them. It really takes so much knowledge, time, and energy to be doing what these women do.

Additionally, the Greenfield Court Service Center and the other Court Service Centers around Massachusetts are incredible resources and are extremely important for those who cannot afford lawyers. Yes, they have amazing interns like me, but again, they do not expect us to know everything. What I have realized is if the Court Service Centers had more full-time staff, they could help so many more people in the same amount of time, or have extra time to update pamphlets, documents, and other resources. 

Glimpse of online work

This has allowed me to reflect overall on the different roles in an organization and their expectations. This brings back what the guest speaker said, that as an intern I am not expected to know everything. I am expected to learn, try hard, and assist in any way possible. Though I can still question what I should/should not know, knowing the expectations they have for me is always a good way to ground myself in any new role, and further reassure that I am meant to be there and putting in my best efforts.

(1) The Greenfield Court Service Center and Discovering Injustices of the Court System

Greenfield District Court

This summer, I have the pleasure to be interning at the Court Service Center (CSC) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. The Greenfield CSC is located in the beautiful Greenfield District Court (pictured at left). People either come in person or contact the CSC remotely, and we provide pro bono assistance to people who do not have lawyers while they navigate the court system. I chose to work in this field because I wanted to gain real-life experience and knowledge about the justice system and to see how people in society are directly impacted by the court system. 

My workspace

Something I have noticed that comes up a lot in every space I have been present in so far is how complicated the court system is. The reason why people in the community come to us at the CSC is because they do not have a lawyer to help them figure out which forms to fill out, how to fill out those forms, or the possible options of what to do next. Starting out, many people do not know the processes of the court system and do not have the money to afford a lawyer. When someone has more money and resources, they typically have an easier time getting through their case. In our society, not everyone is fortunate enough to have their own lawyer and can be left in the dust, figuring things out for themselves.

The CSC addresses these injustices by being a free resource for legal information, referrals, pamphlets, guides and much more. Unfortunately, there can be many filing or publication fees, which under certain circumstances can be waived, but many people are unaware that there even is a fee waiver available. A second injustice that I have seen is for those who do not speak English very well. They have a more difficult time understanding what they need or could do and how to fill out paperwork correctly. A woman I work with speaks Spanish and English, and she told me how scared some people are just being in the court building and feeling lost about what to do, especially for someone who does not speak English or is an immigrant.

Notes on old guides

One of my main tasks is doing initial intakes to figure out what services a litigant is in need of or interested in. Once they meet with one of my supervisors, I may be asked to help litigants fill out forms correctly or contact them for more information if the person is contacting us remotely. Another one of my tasks includes updating guides and pamphlets to make sure they are accurate and written in a way that is easy to understand. Lastly, I attend meetings in the community and in other areas of the Greenfield District Court to learn about upcoming events or to gain knowledge on other topics relating to the court system. 

In a larger, direct way, I will be helping by just being another person to guide people through the complicated court system. This lightens up the work for my supervisors so they are able to help more people. There are so many people who interact with the court service center every day, so the more hands on deck, the quicker litigants get what they need. In a smaller sense, keeping guides up to date and written in plain terms so everyone can understand them is very important because they can be essential resources.


From a basic standpoint, making people more aware that the CSC exists and is an important resource will be a first step towards progress. Having pamphlets, forms, and guides in different languages would make the CSC more accessible for non-native English speakers. Through the community meetings, I have seen how many community organizations have come together to try and find or workshop possible solutions to problems in the community. The court system has been very concrete for a while, but the biggest changes that could be made are finding ways to make the system easier to navigate for someone who does not have a lawyer. I am excited to see what I will learn and experience the rest of this summer in the complicated court system.