We were fortunate to have had several students intern with NH Legal Assistance this summer. They all cited their work advocating for clients in need as the best part of their internships. Their reflections are below.
Sofia Hyatt, 3L at UNH School of Law
I am so grateful for my summer internship at NH Legal Assistance. Even though the majority of my work was done remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff at NHLA immediately made me feel welcome, and comfortable going to them for support.
While I was not able to meet most of my coworkers in person, I grew to know them well because they regularly checked in on me, offered to work on cases together, and really cared about making sure that I had a positive experience.
Working with clients was my favorite part of this internship. I never met the majority of my clients, but felt I was able to connect with them, listen to their stories, and provide a source of support during a difficult time. I learned so much from observing my supervising advocates during case review calls, trainings, and client-facing work.
In one particularly involved domestic violence case, my supervisor allowed me to conduct the initial client interview, which involved asking precise and delicate questions, and adjusting my plan along the way. This type of on-the-fly, client-facing experience cannot be learned in a classroom. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from the staff and clients at NHLA.
Ben Seaman, senior at Bates College
It was an honor working with the NH Campaign for Legal Services and an absolute blast to work with the communications team. I knew about the importance the work NH Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice & Referral Center did, but their critical role in the Granite State really came to the forefront a few weeks into my internship when I had the opportunity to listen in on an interview with a former client.
LARC advocate Steve McGilvary had assisted Danika with protecting her housing in the midst of the COVID crisis. Hearing firsthand how LARC helped her stand up for her rights, and how lost she felt she would be without that help, really stuck with me and made me proud to be part of the crew that could tell those stories. Everyone I worked with was so unbelievably kind and gave me countless opportunities to contribute to this vital mission. (Read Ben’s blog post about Danika’s case at NH-CLS.org)
Colleen Yoder, 3L at UNH School of Law
I am grateful for the opportunity to intern at NH Legal Assistance this summer and learn from NHLA’s outstanding attorneys. I was able to further develop my knowledge in a variety NHLA’s focus areas, including housing, unemployment, and local welfare law. And because I was able to meaningfully participate in cases, I learned so much, such as how to investigate cases and how to prepare for hearings.
The attorneys’ willingness to answer questions and work through challenges taught me how to be client-ready and communicate effectively with clients – skills that simply cannot be fully taught in the classroom.
I am excited to continue to work with NHLA this fall primarily focusing on the Youth Law Project!
Gwendolyn Parrish, 2L at UNH School of Law
Even though COVID-19 meant working remotely during my internship this summer, the attorneys and staff at NH Legal Assistance welcomed me as part of the team and ensured I had numerous opportunities to learn and work on cases. I always felt that my contributions and input were valued.
In my 10 weeks at NHLA, I worked on nine cases, attended three telephonic court hearings with clients, and had a chance to collaborate with staff on many of NHLA’s priority issues: housing and domestic violence advocacy; family and education law; and benefits and local welfare work. I did client interviews, investigations, legal research, trial preparation, telephone advocacy, and assisted with case analysis.
When I started my internship, I was not certain what area of law I wanted to practice. I now know that I enjoy housing law and domestic violence advocacy, but my real passion is youth law. While working on youth law cases this summer, I realized that juveniles are especially vulnerable to becoming “lost” in the system. I will be able to enter my 2L year focusing on juvenile defense.
I have met so many great people at NHLA and look forward to staying in touch. Hopefully, I will be able to reconnect with NHLA as a practicing attorney!
Janis Emery, 2L at UNH School of Law
One issue that frustrates me within the legal system is the lack of access to justice that underserved populations often experience in civil cases. So, the prospect of interning at NH Legal Assistance was an exciting one.
Although I have been involved in the New Hampshire legal community for less than a year, NHLA’s reputation precedes itself. Throughout my first year of law school, I heard from various professors and mentors about the high level of civil legal assistance the organization provides, and this internship confirmed these assertions.
The staff at NHLA tirelessly assists extremely vulnerable populations with issues that matter most, such as housing and domestic violence, and the level of skill and passion for helping clients that I observed among the attorneys and support staff at NHLA was inspiring.
I learned and grew exponentially both professionally and personally during my 10 weeks with NHLA. Everyone was eager to assist me with whatever questions or issues arose and guide me toward client solutions. The collaborative work environment at NHLA is successful in a way that I have never experienced, and it facilitates a level of client care that is rare. Interning at NHLA has been an invaluable experience that will underpin my legal career.