Being able to work at Columbus Community Legal Services (CCLS) in the Advocacy for the Elderly (AFE) Clinic during the summer was an extremely rewarding experience. Getting the position as a 1L who had never participated in the Clinic before was a privilege, but also quite intimidating at first. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I began the job, but I had heard that student attorneys and interns at CCLS were allowed to step into the role of the attorney and conduct all of the day-to-day tasks expected of a lawyer at a firm. Without having any other practical legal experience, I was up for a challenge and in for a great summer.
When first arriving at CCLS, I was assigned eight cases that had been transferred from spring semester students. Right away, I had to get caught up to speed with case history and what needed to be done for each client. During the first few weeks I was a little overwhelmed, but once I became acclimated with my cases, the office, and my co-workers things began to run smoothly.
Initially, I spoke with or met all of my clients and began where the last student attorneys had left off. I attended a hearing and participated in a settlement negotiation with opposing counsel during my fourth week on the job. We were able to use the settlement agreement that I had drafted.
While dealing with an extremely complex estate administration case, I had the opportunity to draft and file motions and accounts with the Probate Court, handle an estate inheritance tax issue, and research and write a legal memorandum.
My other cases have afforded me the opportunity to: draft a FOIA request and appeal to the Mayor; edit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and submit a motion for its approval: assist in researching an amicus curiae brief regarding the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity; and draft and execute a will. Each one of these tasks I had never done before, but with the help of my supervising attorney guiding me in the right direction, I was able to accomplish them all. As a student intern I significantly improved my communication skills through all of the client interaction and phone calls for case-related matters. Throughout the summer I received a few new cases where I conducted intake interviews completely on my own. I had to prepare, ask the right questions to gather enough information to determine whether or not we could take the case, and develop an initial relationship with each prospective client. Not many summer internships allow you this much responsibility.
CCLS is really like a small firm. Every student and supervising attorney is part of the team and throughout the summer I developed many strong friendships. It was really great to have co-workers that you can brainstorm case strategies with and then head over to happy hour to relax from the hard day’s work. CCLS exceeded any expectations that I had coming into the position and gave me confidence in my abilities to tackle my next internship and ultimately become a successful lawyer after graduation.
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J. Inigo Soriano