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A Great Summer Helping New Yorkers in Need

by Parima Kadikar August 19, 2019

The City Bar Justice Center (CBJC) hosted six interns this summer– four law students and two college students. The internship program included visits to civil, housing, and federal court, as well as brown bag lunches with the directors of each CBJC project. Research projects, administrative tasks, and client interaction demonstrated to the interns the holistic efforts that bolster direct legal services. Across the board, interns felt that client interaction was the most rewarding aspect of their work. They conducted intake with clients regarding matters ranging from foreclosure concerns, to asylum applications, to wrongful arrest claims.

Research projects such as investigating whether or not catheters can be covered by emergency Medicaid for undocumented immigrants and demystifying the system of surplus monies in foreclosure sales allowed legal interns to explore new areas. Though CBJC projects address a wide variety of legal concerns, this internship program demonstrated how these concerns tend to be interrelated. Below are some takeaways from the interns’ summer experiences:

“The most memorable experience of the internship was probably my meeting with one of our clients….  We needed answers on some issues and since I was familiar with the case and available, I was allowed the responsibility of meeting with the client myself and trying to get some information from him.  I thought it was good experience, and enjoyed the extra responsibility.”

Irina Silver-Frankel, Pro Bono Services Intern

“All of the most memorable experiences I have had during this internship have involved client interaction. I have loved being able to meet with individuals from all over the world and hear their stories of seeking a better life in the United States. …I appreciated being able to use my Spanish to help a client hopefully feel a little more comfortable and confident telling his story in court.”

-Caroline Nahill, Immigrant Justice Project Intern

“The most surprising lesson I learned this summer was the extent to which scammers are willing to go to cheat people out of their homes/property. Homeowners have to be extremely careful not to fall victim to the amount of scams that exist out there.”

-Ian McGeown, Homeowner Stability Project and LGBT Advocacy Project Intern

“I found working individually with clients extremely fulfilling and emotionally challenging. It taught me just how difficult it can be for bankruptcy clients to get out of debt through any other method.”

-Julia Bonnell, Consumer Bankruptcy Project Intern

“I realized just how much need there is in the court system, and within the access-to-justice realm more generally, to update systems and forms so that individuals may be truly empowered to conduct their own legal matters. It’s great that organizations like CBJC exist to help. …But it’s not lost on me that for every person who contacts us, there must be X amount of others who don’t… The system and populace could stand to benefit enormously from making technological updates throughout so that information is better conveyed to people and so they’re better equipped to navigate the complex legal world.”

-Legal Hotline and Planning and Estates Law Project Intern

“This summer, I learned just how important empathy is to being a good lawyer. Many FedPro clients are struggling with financial, social, and medical issues beyond the scope of their cases, but even if we can’t directly address those issues, expressing empathy and respect can go a long way. I used to think of areas such as housing law or benefits appeals as less interesting (read: less glamorous) than human rights law, but working at CBJC taught me that legal assistance in these areas has profound impacts on people’s lives.”

-Parima Kadikar, Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project

Parima Kadikar is a 2019 summer intern with the City Bar Justice Center’s Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project.

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