Summer 2014 Fellows

Adam Downing – Public Defender’s Office

I interned at the Public Defender’s Office for the State of Ohio, in the Appellate and Post-Conviction Division. From my first day there, I drafted motions, prepared materials for legal proceedings, conducted research, and worked very closely with the assistant state public defenders on a wide range of issues and cases. I was able to tie my first year classes together by being in a real-world environment. I truly enjoyed my summer at OPD and I would recommend it or a similar program for any student who wants to learn a lot and be depended upon by multiple attorneys in a busy environment. The PILF fellowship allowed me to broaden my range of possibilities for the summer and take such a position. Without a fellowship, I would not have had this great opportunity at OPD and undoubtedly, my summer experience would not have been the same.

Kara Ford – Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

As an intern for Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, my research focused primarily on children and families, but intersected many substantive areas of law and policy, including: immigration, healthcare, education, and privacy. One of my big projects this summer was writing a memo on undocumented immigrant children, the laws that apply to them, their lack of legal representation, and other policy suggestions. I also spent time researching and writing memos on FERPA relating to student resource officers, female genital cutting in the U.S., the state law waiving the 5 year ban on Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women and child immigrants, and paid family medical leave in the states of California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. I also had the chance to attend legislative sessions and the Freedom Schools Day of Action, as well as participating in the review and selection of Beat the Odds scholarship applicants.

Erika Frank– Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office

During my summer internship at the Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office, I was able to hone many practical skills required of a prosecuting attorney.  I wrote memoranda and motions that were filed in court, interviewed witnesses, crafted direct examination questions that were actually utilized in trials, and spoke on behalf of the State under the supervision of an attorney in the office.  I had the opportunity to study multiple prosecutors’ style of speaking in a variety of contexts, including in a murder trial, appellate oral arguments, and in judges’ chambers.  Through this position, I discovered what kind of career in prosecution I want to pursue and learned how to apply the knowledge I’ve learned in the classroom setting to real world situations.

Paul Hill – Disability Rights Ohio and The Legal Aid Society of Columbus

I split my 1L summer between two great public interest organizations: Disability Rights Ohio and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. Disability Rights Ohio is a federally-funded nonprofit that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in several areas shown to have the greatest need. I was on the special education team. We worked to ensure that schools treated students with disabilities equitably and fairly. This was a more traditional, research and writing based internship. LASC is a legal resource for those in Franklin County who live below or near the poverty line. I worked In the pro bono department, performing initial legal analysis of incoming cases and finding attorneys in the local community willing to take the cases on for free. This past summer was challenging, but rewarding. It affirmed my desire to work in public interest law when I graduate and I hope to be able to do so!

Abigail Mack – Ha Moked and Ir Amim (Israeli NGO’s located in Jerusalem)

Ms. Mack is a Public Interest Law Foundation Fellow and also one of three Chief Justice Moyer Fellows for 2014.  Abigail served with Ha Moked and Ir Amim, both Israeli NGO’s located in Jerusalem.  At Ha Moked, Abigail’s work consisted primarily of research related to punitive housing demolitions, water rights, and the crime of persecution as it pertains to the treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. At Ir Amim, Ms. Mack compiled a shadow report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee in response to Israel’s submission on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Caitlin McCaffrey – Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC)

This summer I had the pleasure of working as a law clerk at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) on the Housing team. LASC is a non-profit firm which serves the low-income members of our community by providing much-needed legal representation.  My responsibilities with the Housing Team included conducting legal research and writing, drafting legal pleadings and memoranda, and engaging with clients over the phone to help them in various areas of landlord/tenant law. With the support of my PILF Fellowship, I was able to help the underprivileged and underserved members of our community while gaining valuable skills and insight that I hope to use as a future attorney.

Stacia Rapp – Office of the Fairfield County Prosecuting Attorney 

This past summer I had the distinct privilege of working at the Office of the Fairfield County Prosecuting Attorney in Lancaster, Ohio. This office, like all of those like it, prosecutes felony crimes and seeks monetary relief for victims when applicable. As an intern with the office, I was able to assist attorneys with their felony case loads. I performed research on basic questions surrounding case issues, summarized case file materials, had the opportunity to draft two motions to the Court, and assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the cases with which I was assisting. I also assessed Grand Jury Packets sent in by local police agencies and advised the Assistant Prosecutors on what charges, if any, I thought the office should bring. Overall, I learned a lot about being a trial attorney, and I learned it by observing some truly skilled individuals. This all would not have been possible without the generous donations of both students and individuals. Thank you, and thanks PILF!

Liane Rousseau – Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago

This summer I worked at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago.  The Legal Assistance Foundation is the largest legal aid organization in Chicago.  It serves everyone under the poverty line, mostly in Cook County.  I worked with the Housing Practice Group, dealing with subsidized housing issues.  I interviewed potential clients, presented cases to the attorneys I worked under, prepared court documents, and represented the clients in court.  The experience in court, arguing motions and reaching settlements with other attorneys, was incredible.  The job was a great opportunity to improve my speaking and writing skills and to take actual responsibility for a case.

The most important thing I took away from this summer is how indispensible legal aid services are.  Our agency got around 1,000 requests a day from people with civil legal problems.  For most of these people, the legal system is too complex for them to successfully navigate.  With out clients, often times it was easy for us to reach a settlement with the Chicago Housing Authority or Housing Authority of Cook County.  If those clients had tried to represent themselves, they would most likely lose the case and with that, lose their housing voucher and become homeless.  I never realized just how much good you can do with a law degree until this summer.  Beyond all of the legal experience I gained, giving back by working at the Legal Assistance Foundation was the best part of my summer.

Ryan Semerad – Federal Public Defender’s Office 

This summer, I worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio in the Capital Habeas Unit (CHU). As a legal extern, I had the opportunity to work a variety of projects including researching new developments in federal habeas case law, drafting memoranda on clients’ factual and procedural histories, and reviewing trial records for viable ineffective assistance of counsel claims. I also had the opportunity to speak with clients both in person and on the phone.

All in all, my work at the CHU provided me with a real world framework in which to hone my analytical legal skills. Further, my experiences this summer have shown me how attorneys can have a tangible effect on society, politics, and most importantly the clients they serve. I would like to thank the Columbus Bar Association and the Marsha Schermer Memorial Scholarship fund for providing me with the resources to work for this noble and industrious group of attorneys and legal professionals.

Courtney White – Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD Program

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to serve homeless and low-income veterans through the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD Program. I worked closely with an Equal Justice Works Fellow (whose practice is solely dedicated to veterans) and a group of wonderful attorneys at a host organization, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS) in Newark, Ohio. The vast majority of our work focused on removing barriers to housing and securing public and VA benefits for our clients. A unique aspect of my clerkship involved outreach. While there are numerous organizations designed to help veterans, it is often difficult to bridge the gap between the organization and the veteran. To help combat this issue, I performed research and took part in several outreach events and discussions to determine ways to get veterans access to the services they need. Thanks to SEOLS, the Moritz SBA, and PILF, I was able to spend my summer learning how to advocate on behalf of underrepresented individuals in the legal system. I am extremely grateful to these organizations for their contribution to my development as a student and a future attorney.

Meagan Woodall – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

This summer, I worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at its Miami Regional Office in Miami, FL. I worked as a legal intern in the Division of Enforcement. The Commission’s enforcement staff conducts investigations into possible violations of the federal securities laws, and prosecutes the Commission’s civil suits in the federal courts as well as its administrative proceedings. As a legal intern, I received hands-on training on how to begin an investigation, how to issue subpoenas, how to conduct testimony of witnesses, and how the Commission’s staff ultimately litigates its cases. The project I found most rewarding was when I helped identify whether particular issuers of microcap securities violated the federal securities laws by misleading investors, found support to show the violations, and drafted the subpoenas to bring the entities into testimony. I felt like I was making a difference in investors’ lives. With PILF’s support, I was able to spend my summer pursuing a big passion of mine–helping rid corruption in the securities markets and protecting investors. Thank you, PILF!