Being able to represent clients in court proceedings has been extremely rewarding and I was fortunate to have a clinical placement that gave me real-world experience as early as my second year of law school. When my clinic placement ended I continued to volunteer and earned the school’s Public Service Transcript Notation for the spring semester. I then was offered a full-time position to stay at VLP during the summer of my 2L year. With the additional hours working over the summer, I began going to the Suffolk Family Law Clinic as well and got a better handle on both family law and guardianship issues and remedies.
I continued to work at VLP throughout my 3L year, receiving credit through the Family Law Clinic in the fall, and volunteering again in the spring. I helped run the Middlesex Guardianship Clinic as one of two staff members. My additional responsibilities included training law students and attorneys to fill out and review Guardianship Care Plan Reports and teaching volunteers VLP’s intake proceedings. My time working at VLP has been extremely rewarding and in April 2016 they gave me the Meg Connolly MVP Award for commitment to access to justice throughout the year.
In addition to my public interest work experience, I was also very involved in various student organizations that promoted public interest work. During my first year I joined the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society (PDP), which opened the door to many public interest opportunities. I participated in fundraising for “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” “Care Packs for Heroes,” and “Cans Against Immunity” (which raised money and food donations for veterans). In my second and third years I served as PDP’s vice president and began organizing and creating new opportunities for the group. PDP also raised money for “Operation Delta Dog,” which rescues stray dogs and trains them to be service animals to help veterans.
Aside from PDP, during my third year at law school, I had the privilege to serve as the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) president. I was responsible for organizing the year’s events and found ways to enrich students’ work experiences with public interest opportunities.
I am especially proud of organizing New England Law’s first ever Alternate Spring Break program. This program gave seven students an opportunity to intern at VLP for the week of spring break in the family law and guardianship unit or the consumer and bankruptcy unit. Students researched legal issues, wrote memorandums, telephoned clients for follow-ups, and shadowed experienced attorneys working at the Suffolk Courthouse clinics.
One of PILA’s biggest events is the Auction, which raises money to go to a summer grant program that we fund. We got donations from BarBri, the Boston Bruins, local restaurants, and New England Law professors. It is one of the biggest events at school and I am very proud that the 2016 Auction raised over $13,000, which directly benefits students working in non-paying public interest jobs over the summer.
All in all, my experiences in public interest related jobs or student organizations have been wonderful. I have learned from some of the best attorneys around and gave back to the Boston community. The clinic program at New England Law | Boston is something that really prepares students for working after graduation and Professor Engler goes above and beyond to make sure that each student gets the most out of the program.