Summer 2006 Testimonials
The EJF grant for me was an opportunity to do the work I wanted to do, while still being able to pay rent. Thanks to the grant I received, I was able to spend the summer representing Immigrants fleeing from political persecution who are seeking asylum in the United States. I spent the summer performing all the tasks that immigration lawyers do daily. I had my own caseload and did everything from communicating with client's families over the phone, to conducting interviews in DHS detention centers and filing habeas petitions, Asylum applications, and writing briefs for Immigration Court. Thanks to EJF, I was able to gain invaluable experience in public interest lawyering and make a difference in people's lives in the process.
Class of 2008
The EJF grant allowed me to spend my summer in Geneva, Switzerland, working for the United Nations Environment Programme. As a legal intern for the chemicals division, I spent the summer working in the office of the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Obviously, there was no way that I would be able to financially support myself in Geneva for the summer. Receiving an EJF grant allowed me to follow my dreams of pursuing a public interest career, while obtaining an experience that will help me obtain that goal.
I interned at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.
I gave presentations, researched domestic legislation and international law on child soldiers, wrote preliminary drafts of sections of a judgment, attended the judge's deliberations on a massacre case, and got to know the other interns who came from all around the world. With the EJF grant I was also able to attend the Court's public hearings in El Salvador. It was a privilege to be there.
I interned at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights. The Center�s mission is to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in Pennsylvania through direct legal services, education and policy reform. The Center is the only Pennsylvania organization that provides direct legal services for individuals facing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
I worked as a legal clinic advocate, providing direct services to members of the LGBT community. I responded to caller�s issues in diverse legal areas including child custody, family and estate planning, name changes, hate crimes and employment discrimination.
I also initiated a project that investigated police relations with the LGBT community in Philadelphia and specifically focused on the transgender experience. I analyzed crime statistics and found that arrests under "quality of life" crimes are disproportionately high in areas with a high concentration of LGBT establishments. I then designed and implemented a survey and collected anecdotal evidence about LGBT individual�s experience with the police. The results of this project will be used in working with the Police Advisory Commission and the Philadelphia Police Department to improve relations between the LGBT community and police.
I had an amazing summer at Idaho Legal Aid Services in Lewiston, Idaho, which would have been impossible without the financial support of my EJF grant. I worked on a variety of cases including criminal defense for juvenile members of the Nez Perce Tribe; divorce and child custody cases for clients leaving abusive relationships; and a wide range of landlord-tenant disputes.
Soon after I arrived, I became the office�s go-to-girl for clients with landlord-tenant disputes. Idaho law allows landlords to commence eviction proceedings with as little as three days notice to tenants � so clients would come in with a notice they�d received a day or two before and would need a response immediately. Preventing homelessness is one of the organization�s top priorities, but with such heavy caseloads, staff attorneys couldn�t always drop what they were doing to meet with a walk-in client despite their immediate need. This combination made such cases a great opportunity for me to gain experience working directly with clients from their initial visit, providing advice and counsel to them throughout the process, negotiating with landlords, and drafting pleadings.
Class of 2007
I spent the summer at the National Health Law Program completing a 50-state survey on state statutes and regulations relating to family planning. The resulting document is a tool for advocates who want to know exactly what services the state is legally bound to provide. This is important because the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 gives states increased power to change their Medicaid programs without federal approval. Now if states try to cut family planning services, advocates can remind them of their statutory and regulatory commitments. For me, the internship confirmed that the law can be a powerful tool in protecting underserved populations.
National Health Law Program (NHeLP)
Class of 2008
My primary functions as a summer associate with the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society included researching criminal law and procedure and drafting legal memoranda applying this law to our clients' situations. I was also able to attend trials, night court, arraignments, and hearings on a regular basis. While working with two senior attorneys over the summer, I realized their essential role in protecting our clients' rights. The experience also opened my eyes to the many challenges that both the clients and attorneys face in navigating New York City's brutally impersonal and fast-paced criminal justice system. Having learned these lessons, I am extremely grateful to the Equal Justice Foundation for funding my work with the Legal Aid Society.
Class of 2008
I selected WCL because of its strong commitment to public service. EJF fellowships are perfect examples of how AU law students are able to gain hands-on work experience as well as give back to the community. From researching constitutional and evidentiary issues for suppression motions and oral arguments to sitting second chair in a trial, I was able to develop legal defenses for indigent defendants. At the Office of the Public Defender in Montgomery County, Maryland, I learned from professionals who are experts in their field while ensuring justice is served regardless of a defendant's financial status. My EJF fellowship enabled me to take the lessons I learned in the classroom and put them into practice while assisting my fellow community members.
Rachel L. Weiner
Class of 2008
My fellowship allowed me to accept an unpaid position at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). I worked in the Civil Division at PDS working with juveniles in the criminal justice system who are also eligible for special education services through the District of Columbia Public Schools. Many of the juveniles who become involved in the criminal justice system are eligible for special education services and we worked to make sure the student was receiving appropriate services. I plan to continue to work with youth upon graduation and the Equal Justice Foundation Fellowship was essential for me to gain the invaluable experience of working at PDS.
Class of 2007
The EJF grant made it possible for me to explore two of my legal interests: immigrant labor rights and students' rights. I spent the first six weeks of this summer at the North Carolina Justice Center where I represented migrant farm workers in wage claims and complaints regarding the conditions of their living quarters and work environment. After my internship in Raleigh, I spent six weeks at the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi in Jackson, where I helped to write and edit the Mississippi Students' Rights Handbook focusing on students' constitutional rights in schools and when dealing with police. In both organizations, I was able to work directly with clients and practice my skills as an attorney and an organizer. As a native of California, my summer experience also challenged my pre-conceived notions of "the South" and has led me to have a greater appreciation for the diversity in the U.S. I greatly appreciate the support of past EJF donors and sponsors!
M. Lucero Ortiz
Class of 2007
I worked on behalf of homeless individuals, non-citizens prevented from attending a job fair based on their nationality, refugees seeking asylum in the United States, and low-income individuals seeking legal assistance in starting their own businesses. I also researched specific issues for impact litigation in the areas of voting rights and the desegregation of K-12 public schools. These experiences required me not only to draw from many areas of law, but also to broaden my range of counseling skills as I worked with people from various backgrounds.
My summer would not have been possible without the support of Equal Justice Foundation. It is my hope that EJF will continue to provide opportunities for students that will serve as an introduction to lifelong careers in public service.
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area, San Francisco CA
Class of 2007