Working in the Public Sector

H LittlefieldBy Hannah Littlefield, Class of 2019

I had the privilege to work at the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia this past summer. Interning for the Legal Aid Society was a very enriching experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn from the hard-working and dedicated staff attorneys, but I also had the honor of helping low-income Virginians with a variety of free legal services. On my first day, the managing attorney inquired about my areas of interests and within an hour, I was working on a case dealing with a child custody dispute between a same-sex couple. On my second day, I was already meeting with a client and learning so much about the legal process.

From day one at Legal Aid, I was doing a variety of legal tasks, and I loved every minute. One of the most rewarding experiences was having the opportunity to see my work, and the work of the staff attorneys, help people in need. Cases are continuously being assigned to the staff attorneys, and sometimes within a week or two, an attorney is already in court representing the client. After helping one of the staff attorney’s put together a client’s trial binder, I was able to observe the client’s court proceedings in Family Court. During the span of one day, I observed the testimony of both sides, attended the private conference between the attorneys, joined the Guardian Ad Litem’s meeting with the children, and witnessed the judge enter a temporary restraining order. It was truly rewarding to see how Legal Aid was able to help a mother fight for the custody of her children and obtain a protective order against her abuser.

I also had the opportunity to research a wide range of legal issues for the staff attorneys, including child custody disputes between biological and non-biological parents, consumer rights, and housing authority disputes. I assisted the Equal Justice Works Fellow with automobile fraud and consumer protection advocacy by analyzing how Virginia courts have defined deceptive acts and practices, and by outlining the possible avenues for filing a claim under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. I frequently interacted with clients, prepared advanced medical directives, simple wills, and divorce complaints; drafted memoranda; prepared trial binders; and presented my research findings to the staff attorneys. I also participated in a domestic violence meeting where staff attorneys from every office brainstormed strategies to help more victims of domestic violence obtain and keep protective orders.

One of the greatest aspects about interning with Legal Aid was learning something new every day, working with the staff attorneys on an array of issues, and helping people in need. The staff at Legal Aid never ceased to amaze me, and the work they do in the community is truly inspiring. This experience solidified my commitment to work with individuals and communities living in poverty. I always knew I wanted to work in the public sector, and after interning with Legal Aid, I cannot imagine working in any other field. I cannot thank Legal Aid enough for providing me with invaluable, hands-on experience.

1L Summer Work- DOJ in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homicide Division

maherby Alex Maher, Class of 2019

Alex Maher is a current 2L from New Jersey. She is a member of the Moot Court Team, Environmental Law and Policy Review, a Themis representative, and Events Chair of the Women’s Law Society.

During my 1L summer I worked at the Department of Justice in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homicide Division. I could not have imagined a better place to gain real insight into the legal field among true professionals. The attorneys in the homicide division are warriors, and they were so eager and willing to let me learn from them.

By week three I had already been handed research assignments, given a motion to draft on my own, allowed to sit in on witness interviews, asked to organize evidence for trial, observed three murder trials in part, and spent hours weeding through jail calls, testimony, and police interviews. In the weeks, following I attended two murder trials from start to finish, accompanied homicide detectives on a ride-along, visited the Baltimore Medical Examiner’s office, and visited a crime scene. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had a variety of programs for their summer interns that made the summer a lot of fun. We toured the Capital and the Library of Congress, had lunch with the U.S. Attorney, and attended a Q&A with the Attorney General.

I cannot recommend the Homicide Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office enough to anyone who, like myself, is interested in litigation and really sees themselves practicing in a courtroom. These attorneys are in court just about every week, constantly preparing for a hearing, motion, or trial. There was never a dull moment. And while working in homicide was a sobering experience at times, there was real fulfillment in knowing I was helping the victim’s loved ones find justice.