NYLAG Welcomes 2014 Summer Interns
On a steamy day in May that felt more like August, NYLAG opened its doors to 70 summer interns, who were accepted out of a field of over 700 applicants. They attend 21 law schools and several undergraduate institutions located in seven states, the District of Columbia and Canada – making the Class of 2014 NYLAG’s largest-ever summer internship program. In addition to English, this year’s interns speak a total of 14 languages.
“This is my favorite time of the year. I love to meet and get to know these talented young people, who represent the next generation of public interest attorneys,” said Yisroel Schulman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “I also think of it as an annual opportunity to remind our donors and partners that NYLAG is a volunteer-driven organization. We could not have helped over 76,000 clients last year without the support of New York City’s finest private law firms and premier law schools from across the country.”
NYLAG’s internship model is unique for its emphasis on providing students with hands-on experience representing clients in court, negotiating with opposing counsel, and arguing before a judge. This is in addition to conducting client intakes, developing skills in legal research, writing briefs and preparing case documentation. Each intern is supervised and mentored by a NYLAG attorney.
Sam Starkman, a second-year student at Queens University Faculty of Law in Ontario, is working in NYLAG’s LegalHealth unit, which partners with medical professionals to address the non-medical needs of low-income people with serious health problems. Sam will be helping patients secure benefits, fix housing problems, address credit issues, handle immigration matters, access special education services, solve insurance disputes and negotiate workplace accommodations.
“I chose NYLAG because I wanted to work with an organization that was doing work that I cared about, while also offering me an environment where I could develop a broad range of legal skills. Having spoken with a previous LegalHealth Intern from my university, I was given a glowing review of NYLAG,” he said. “The work being done by NYLAG interns is special, because you are able to play an integral role from the time of client intake to the eventual resolution of the legal issue. From what I understand, this kind of frontline client interaction and general legal experience is rare in a law internship. Furthermore, NYLAG is helping extremely vulnerable segments of the New York population, creating an environment where staff can try to make a meaningful difference to those who are in great need.”
Akhila Kolisetty is a third-year student at Harvard Law who is passionate about using the law as a tool for social change, especially to improve the lives of survivors of domestic and gender-based violence. She is working with NYLAG’s Family Law Unit, which provides consultation, advocacy and representation in a wide range of family law issues, prioritizing assistance to victims of domestic violence. Akhila will work closely with clients, drafting petitions and motions, assisting petitioners with orders of protection through the Courtroom Advocates Project in Family Court, and working on a variety of active matters on the Family Law Unit’s docket.
“NYLAG was particularly attractive to me because of the organization’s expertise in family law, the strength of its Matrimonial & Family Law Unit, the organization’s size and access to resources, and the expertise of the staff attorneys,” said Akhila. “I also chose NYLAG because of the opportunity to work with immigrant survivors of domestic violence and the chance to simultaneously work on both the family and immigration-related cases of survivors of violence, such as Violence Against Women Act petitions and U-Visas. I believe strongly in a holistic approach and NYLAG’s ability to assist the same clients with the myriad legal problems they face was extremely important to me.”
In addition to handling substantive work, NYLAG’s summer interns are given the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive training program – 35 sessions in all – that covers the breadth of civil legal services practice in New York City, as well as a series of brown bag lunches on fellowships, clerkships and other topics of interest, and social events in and around NYLAG’s office in lower Manhattan.
The 2014 summer interns are embedded in one of eight NYLAG practice units spanning a total of 18 projects and programs delivering legal services in the areas of housing, special education, wage and hour disputes, domestic violence, legal matters affecting LGBTQ communities, special litigation, and much more.