Summer 2012 Fellows
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
This summer I worked in the Consumer Group at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. The scope of the Consumer Group is to represent low-income citizens from debt collectors and original creditors, as well as other issues including auto fraud, tuition collection, and foreclosure defense. Over the course of the summer, I worked on whatever projects and tasks the attorneys needed, including client intake, drafting and filing court documents, and extensive research on emerging consumer issues. I gained invaluable experience and insight into working in poverty law. Working at a legal clinic reveals just how much demand there is for legal services for low-income citizens. The Legal Aid Society of Columbus continues to strive to help as much of the community as they can despite constraints on funding and staffing. Volunteering at Legal Aid this summer has shown me how important it is to continue on a legal career path that helps continue to meet this largely unmet demand for legal services in the future.
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
I spend this past summer as a litigation support clerk at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC). My main responsibility was to assist lawyers in LASC’s substantive law teams (e.g. housing, consumer rights, public benefits) when they had questions or needed help developing an argument to use. I certainly developed a new appreciation for civil procedure, a class that I did not originally enjoy, because our clients would be affected by procedural issues. One aspect of my work of which I was most proud was my contribution to an amicus brief, to the Ohio Supreme Court, that several Ohio legal services programs wrote together. My experience at LSAC was a great introduction to poverty law and opportunity to improve my research and writing skills.
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
This summer I had the pleasure and good fortune to work at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. I worked in the Housing Division, with four wonderful attorneys whose dedication to their clients was matched by their willingness to help me learn the ropes of landlord–tenant law. I went to court regularly, participated in administrative hearings, and worked closely with attorneys on research projects and drafting motion briefs for the municipal court. The most rewarding aspect of the experience, though, was the opportunity to provide a useful service to our clients, many of whom would have no chance of retaining legal representation without the existence of the Legal Aid Society.
Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Fellow
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
I worked as a legal intern on the domestic team at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC). LASC provides legal assistance for low-income individuals who cannot afford representation on their own. The domestic team at LASC handles divorces, child custody disputes, domestic violence issues, and occasionally other family law matters. In fact, this summer, I worked on an adoption defense case in which our client was fighting a permanent termination of his parental rights. Overall, I received lots of experience interacting with clients, researching case law, and writing, in addition to exposure to domestic court. I also got to know the members of the domestic team, and I enjoyed the weekly case acceptance meetings. There, the team members would present their potential client’s stories, and the team would assess whether LASC could either take the case, or whether the client would receive information for a referral or to proceed on his/her own. I appreciated that LASC would always offer some sort of help to each client who came with a legal issue, even if it was unable to provide full representation.
This past summer I worked at the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties
Union in Atlanta, Georgia. The Voting Rights Project is the division of the ACLU that works
exclusively on voting rights issues. During this internship, I had the opportunity to work on the organization’s challenges to restrictive photo voter ID legislation across the country, a challenge to a city’s proposed reapportionment plan, and a variety of other, prominent voting rights issues. This was an incredible experience for me, and I know it would not have been possible without support from the Public Interest Law Foundation’s fellowship program.
Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Memorial Fund Fellow
Federal Public Defender: Capital Habeas Unit
This summer, I worked for the Federal Public Defender’s Capital Habeas Unit in Columbus. The CHU’s legal work involves the exciting and challenging intersection of
constitutional law, death-penalty jurisprudence, and habeas and civil-rights litigation. During my time at the CHU I gained exposure to §1983 litigation challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s lethal injection protocol; I learned more about the competency standards for executing a prisoner, by working on a case where we argued that a client’s adaptive deficits precluded her execution; I worked on a twenty-seven year old multiple homicide case, in which it appears our client has been wrongly convicted. When I was searching for a 2012 summer position, former rising 2Ls strongly recommended the Capital Habeas Unit. I enthusiastically pass down their endorsement to future rising 2Ls. The CHU is a wonderful place to tackle interesting legal issues, learn to make creative legal arguments, and work with great attorneys who are also great people and totally committed to their clients’ cases.
The Ohio Poverty Law Center
Because of my PILF Fellowship, I was able to work as a law clerk at the Ohio Poverty Law Center. OPLC provides support to Ohio’s legal aid offices and coordinates statewide policy advocacy for low-income Ohioans. My research for the attorneys there introduced me to several areas of the law, including education, housing, and consumer issues, and also exposed me to the realities of public interest work. I came to law school to find a career in service, and PILF made it possible for me learn what such a career might be like.
USAO – Maryland
This summer, I worked for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District in
Maryland. As a summer legal intern, I worked directly with Assistant United States Attorneys within both the criminal and civil division. I began my internship by writing numerous memorandums of law on various constitutional issues. For instance, I analyzed how a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel relates to the admissibility of incriminating statements and the concept of sovereign immunity. Additionally, I wrote several sentencing memorandums, replies to Section 2255 post-conviction appeals, and jury instructions for a pending case. Lastly, I assisted a team of prosecutors in preparing for an upcoming trial by conducting witness interviews, attending depositions, and participating in proffer sessions. Aside from these writing assignments, I also visited a Federal Prison, learned how to shoot various weapons with ATF, and met many of the District Court Judges in Baltimore. My summer experience was exciting and challenging, and offered me the unique opportunity to participate in many aspects of the prosecutorial process.
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
During this past summer, I worked as a law clerk at The Legal Aid Society of Columbus, in their tax division. It proved a unique part of The Legal Aid Society due mainly to its narrow legal focus and singular legal opposition from the Internal Revenue Service. My summer
experience at The Legal Aid Society was exactly the type of public interest work that I wanted for my second year summer job. It combined interesting investigatory work, a unique tax focus and plenty of opportunity to work with clients.
Children’s Defense Fund
This summer, I worked at the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. The Children’s Defense Fund is a national non-profit organization that works to serve the needs of children on a national, state, and local level. This child advocacy organization strives to create a level playing field for every child through research, education, and advocacy. Issues of importance to CDF include poverty, abuse and neglect, health care, education, and many others. I was privileged to work with this organization in its state office in Columbus, Ohio. This summer was an exciting time to be at CDF-Ohio because I was able to support the preparation and operation efforts for CDF’s national conference, which was held in Cincinnati, Ohio in July. I am appreciative to both the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and the Public Interest Law Foundation for making it possible for me to gain wonderful experience and insight into the world of child advocacy this summer.
Columbus Refugee and Immigrant Services
This summer I worked for Columbus Refugee and Immigrant Services as a legal intern. I assisted in many tasks relating to the practice of immigration law by helping out with meetings between supervising attorneys and clients, conducting legal research relating to the administrative procedure of the United States Customs and Immigration Service, and writing legal briefs for supervising attorneys. I gained experience in many different fields including asylum and refugee cases, status adjustment, relative petitions, cancellation of removal, and temporary protected status.
Columbus Bar Foundation Fellow
Ohio Poverty Law Center
Thanks to the PILF Fellowship I was able to spend the summer working with the Ohio Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the rights of the disadvantaged. There I researched a variety of topics ranging from public benefits to community profiles. The team was welcoming and I immediately felt comfortable collaborating with each of the attorneys. In addition to research projects, the OPLC team made sure to include the interns in all of their activities throughout the summer. Because of this I was able to participate in both formal and informal task force and committee meetings. I attended trainings where I learned about the intricacies of public housing and education law. I contributed as a guest blogger to the OPLC blog. And I discussed law school and my future legal career at planned brown bag lunch sessions and happy hours, with people who have many years of experience working in my field of interest. Through my summer internship at OPLC I was able to learn about the law from a different perspective and help attorneys who were working to fight for those who are often unable to fight for themselves.
Cincinnati Public School System
I spent my summer as a PILF Fellow at Cincinnati Public School District. It was an amazing experience. Cincinnati Public Schools allowed me to work on many different projects from several different practice areas, including special education law, labor and employment, and student privacy. Additionally, I was able to work closely and develop strong relationships with the attorneys at CPS. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be a PILF Fellow at Cincinnati Public Schools.
Environmental Protection Agency
This summer, with the gracious assistance of PILF, I was able to accept a summer clerkship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region III office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The region covers the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In my role as a law clerk with U.S. EPA I was able to contribute to its vital mission, the protection of human health and the environment. I was assigned to the Waste and Chemical branch for the duration of the summer. We worked primarily under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to issue penalties and enforcement actions against those in violation of federal hazardous waste regulations. My branch conducted inspections of major industrial players throughout our region. I then was able to draft notices of violation, settlement offers and agreements, and even had the opportunity to contribute to an appellate brief. It was a very exciting summer; I learned a lot and found motivation and direction for my legal career, while making a meaningful impact on the lives and communities of those living in Region III. All made possible by PILF!
Federal Public Defender, Oregon
I worked for the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Oregon. The Federal Public Defender represents indigent clients for federal crimes. As a clerk, I was able to work on a number of different projects from pretrial preparation to sentencing work. Clerks were also to go with attorneys on duty days, which is where we could interact with clients and meet with them before first appearances. This wide range of work gave me a strong feeling of accomplishment and renewed my dedication to public interest work. It was a great experience and could not have been possible without the generosity of PILF donors.