Thursday, November 12, 2009

Children’s Defense Fund, Washington, D.C.

By Jennifer Cormier

As a high school student in Boston, Massachusetts, I often visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. One afternoon, I attended a civil rights panel at the Library and discovering an inspiring duo of speakers: Peter and Marian Wright Edelman. I was captivated by their stories about the civil rights movement and their dedication to public service.

Years later, I remembered that afternoon when I made the decision to enroll at Georgetown University Law Center. I chose Georgetown because of its commitment to social justice – and because I dreamed of working one day for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), the advocacy organization founded by Mrs. Edelman.

This past summer, I fulfilled that dream when I served as a Legal Intern within CDF’s Child Welfare and Mental Health Division. The position combined my two passions: child advocacy and mental health. I prepared for my first day eager to immerse myself in the work of the organization that I had long admired from afar.

Just two blocks away from the Law Center campus and a stone’s throw from Capitol Hill, CDF is housed in a small brick building on E Street. While the fa├žade is unassuming, the office is filled with talented, passionate advocates who transform children’s lives every day. I was proud to meet and learn from the three staffers who comprise the Child Welfare and Mental Health Division: MaryLee Allen, Beth Davis-Pratt, and Stefanie Sprow.

During my tenure, I prepared legal memoranda to brief Mrs. Edelman about relevant juvenile justice and special education cases decided by the Supreme Court. I also helped to research and edit testimony of Mrs. Edelman’s when she was invited to testify at a hearing for the Youth PROMISE Act in the House of Representatives. Finally, I conceptualized and wrote content for a new section of the CDF website dedicated to children’s mental health advocacy.

CDF is based on the idea that children have rights but no voices – they cannot vote, lobby, or advocate for themselves. I am grateful to the Equal Justice Foundation and its generous donors for giving me the opportunity to amplify CDF’s voice for children during this summer of a lifetime.

Monday, November 9, 2009

U.S. District Court, Newark, New Jersey

By Shareif Abdelwahab

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as an intern for the U.S. District Court in the Federal District of New Jersey. My time in chambers proved to be an invaluable experience as I got the chance to work closely with Judge Stanley Chesler on drafting legal memoranda, reviewing briefs and discussing the merits of the arguments presented by the litigants at oral argument. As a culmination to this experience, I successfully completed a judicial opinion that was subsequently approved and used by the judge. The satisfaction gained from that one project alone made the experience worthwhile.

Beyond these tangible gains, I also really benefited from sitting in on oral arguments and seeing legal practitioners apply their craft in everyday real life situations. It exposed me to the different litigating styles that practitioners employ, from the calm and light-hearted approach to the aggressive and in-your-face. One of my fondest memories of this entire experience was walking into oral argument and hearing one of our very own Georgetown Law professors advocate on behalf of the defendant. To see this professor in the court room, after having been taught by him in class, really relayed to me the disconnect that we as law students who study theory and doctrine have with our colleagues in the workplace who combine these principles with real life cases and facts in one coherent and persuasive presentation.

We as law students read a lot and, hopefully, learn a lot about the law. Often times however, we forget that the legal universe extends beyond the classrooms we learn in or the law schools we attend. Being a successful lawyer goes beyond knowing the Erie Doctrine or the UCC; it involves a combination of substance and style, intellect and elegance. My time in chambers this past summer could not have illustrated this point more then it did to me. My very assignment involved drafting a memo regarding a pro se petitioner's motion to amend or revoke his felony conviction under U.S.C. Section 2255. Admittedly, this task seemed intimidating at first; I had never learned about 2255 in my criminal law class. On top of that, I was expected to present my conclusion to Judge Chesler himself and explain the reasoning behind it. Luckily, I was able to learn so much about 2255 that I was able to think critically in applying the law to the facts of the petitioner's case. But it was my ability to articulate these thoughts verbally that served both as my biggest challenge and success of the summer.

All in all, I absolutely enjoyed my time in chambers and the mentoring I received from both Judge Chesler and his clerks. I feel that I have grown by leaps and bounds as a law student and individual as a result of this experience. For that, I am very grateful and thankful for EJF and their contributors in helping making this summer experience possible for me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Photos fom the Live Auction!

Relive your favorite moments or see what you missed!

Photo by Alex Perry, Georgetown 2L.

See more great photos of the Live Auction taken by Alex:

Thank you to all the donors, auctioneers and students who made our Live Auction a great success!

Dept. of Labor- Mine Safety and Health Administration

By Ahsaki Anokye

This summer, I worked at the Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mine Safety and Health Administration. I did many different research projects. There was one case in particular that I believed was very noteworthy. When a manager at a mine is responsible for a particular egregious and dangerous offense, the government may bring individual civil penalties against that individual. These are called 110(c) cases. One such case arose out of an anonymous complaint that employees were being directed to climb on an energized conveyor belt, thereby putting them at risk of a slip and fall onto moving equipment. I put a lot of time researching relevant case law that would support my belief that individual civil penalties should be brought against the agent.

Through EJF, social justice was furthered based in the fact that much of our country is powered on the production of coal. That individuals work tirelessly everyday to provide a living for their families and also energy for the entire country, is very valuable. However, the coal mining industry is very dangerous. The risks associated with going underground are great in that at any time the small tunnels that mine workers enter could collapse and kill many workers. That air quality is severely impaired places workers at risk for suffocation. That coal in itself is extremely flammable, places individuals at risk for explosion and fire. Black Lung Disease is also extremely common among mine workers and can permanently and chronically disable anyone afflicted. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring that the safety standards set forth in the Mine Safety and Health Act are followed closely. In my time at the Department of Labor, I contributed to those initiatives. I am proud that I did America and the mine workers of America a social justice by protecting the safety and health of one of America’s most precious workers: the mine worker. I believe that regulating the mine industry through governmental administrative agencies is very effective. There is too much money to be made if mine owners break a few rules and cut a few corners. It is my belief that without the strict governmental intervention, many more mine workers would die in the pursuit increased profits. Had it not been for the EJF scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this non-paid internship. Because of the EJF scholarship, not only was I able to realize the social implications of this job, but hopefully I was able to help make mining a bit safer. For this, I am extremely grateful.

Equal Justice Foundation

EJF's Live Auction took place January 29, 2015 in Hart Auditorium and was a HUGE SUCCESS. Check the Facebook page for updates about other ways to help fund public interest activities for Summer 2015