Friday, February 13, 2015

Hitting the Internship Lottery

This summer I had the opportunity to work for a federal district court judge in Alabama. I honestly think I had the internship lottery. The judge was also an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama. He cared more about what his interns were getting out of their experience than what he was getting out of his interns. After an initial assignment to review our writing skills, he and his staff would ask about our interests and what we wanted to accomplish. He then assigned us to a law clerk that was working on such a case, and I was grateful to work on a habeas appeal from the state courts. 

But more than the research and writing skills, Judge Coogler gave us opportunities to see things we will never get to see in a classroom. I had the opportunity to tour two prisons to see how the facilities are run and the opportunities and drawbacks of each. I was also able to meet with officers at the Tuscaloosa police department to learn about finger print analysis and crime scene investigations. I saw sentencing hearings, met with different judges, and was even able to observe a criminal jury trial from beside the bench. And in one of the coolest moments of my life, I had the opportunity to put on a training suit and get attacked by a police dog.

Through my experience working on the habeas petition and my greater understanding of the conditions prisoners find themselves in, I felt the injustice that comes from having a bad attorney and the constant injustice that comes from having an apathetic one. When I expressed my interest in public defense, Judge Coogler helped me get a week at the federal defender’s office in Birmingham. That week confirmed my desire and has helped guide my decisions through this year of law school. 

My summer in the judge’s chambers opened up more opportunities than I ever could have dreamed. I was surrounded by professionals who wanted to help me in my journey through law school and genuinely wanted to teach me everything I longed to know. Without this experience, I may still be a lost law student unsure of my path; with it, I am confident and more prepared for my future than I could have imagined. Such an experience is only possible with EJF funding. Judicial internships are completely unpaid, but I still needed to pay for my apartment in Tuscaloosa and supplement some of my subletted apartment in DC. Because of EJF funding I was able to take the internship with the judge and have peace of mind about my summer finances. A once in a lifetime opportunity with peace of mind… I could not have asked for a better summer.

- June Gargus, Georgetown University Law Center L'16

Monday, February 2, 2015

Becoming a Legal Advocate

The Equal Justice Foundation at Georgetown provided me with the opportunity to work in the legal advocacy department of Catholic Legal Immigration Network Charities (CLINIC). CLINIC works to protect the rights of immigrants in partnership with Catholic and other community programs. Working at CLINIC exposed me to various issues in immigration law and gave me the experience necessary to secure a future internship at the Arlington Immigration Court.

One of my favorite assignments was assisting in writing a brief for a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Under the supervision of a CLINIC staff attorney, I researched and co-wrote a brief for a pro-bono client. I learned so much about how an immigration case is processed and how criminal convictions can impact immigration status. The case involved several complicated and developing legal issues, but the supervising attorney spent a great deal of his time breaking down the issues with me. It was an incredible learning experience and provided me with a great writing sample.    
I was also able to write a comment for a proposed agency rule, analyze state immigration laws, and research issues for proposed legislative action. I really enjoyed gaining exposure to policy research and advocacy, as well as more traditional legal work.

My internship at CLINIC also exposed me to the various agencies and non-profit organizations involved in immigration. We attended meetings with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. We also coordinated with non-governmental organizations such as Ayuda, and the Progressive States Network. It was useful to see how organizations work with government agencies, and one another, to advocate on immigration issues. I remain in touch with the CLINIC attorneys. One of them is also working with me as a supervising attorney for the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. I have also called another for advice regarding a case I worked on for Georgetown's Center for Applied Legal Studies. The internship was exactly what I needed for my 1L summer. I learned about the area of law in which I want to practice, I developed my professional network, worked with great people, and got paid through EJF while doing so.

- Kelly Hughes, Georgetown Law '16

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