Our Summer Series continues! This series highlights different Latina students and law grads as they embark in their summer jobs and/or bar prep all across the country. We hope to provide a variety of work experiences, options for a healthy work-life balance, and general motivation through different guest contributors to help you to take charge of your summer and professional goals! Today we hear from Karen, a rising 3L from California and returning guest writer (yay!!). Karen is returning to the area of law that inspired her to go to law school and you can see the conviction and passion she has for this area. As important, see how she drops some tips on getting your summer gig early by hustling and networking with those that you know can help you:
Before starting law school, I worked as a legal assistant and advocate with a non-profit legal services organization in Los Angeles. The organization provided education advocacy for foster youth. It was through my experience with that organization that I decided to attend law school in order to practice youth law. However, after my first year of law school I wanted to explore a different area of the law.
I spent my 1L summer at the East Bay Community Law Center (“EBCLC”) in the Housing and Eviction Defense clinic, assisting low-income residents of Alameda County in Northern California. My experience working with EBCLC was great not only because I received valuable training in equity, cultural sensitivity and intersecting identities which I know will be helpful in the future, but I also had the chance to advocate for monolingual clients and help them avoid homelessness. My work at EBCLC over the summer was incredibly rewarding and through it I once again observed the great need for Latino, Spanish-speaking attorneys. My experience at EBCLC working with monolingual clients reaffirmed my commitment to public interest.
After my first summer in law school I decided to return to Southern California and to return to the area of the law that inspired me to go to law school. After my 1L year I knew that I wanted to secure my 2L summer internship early, so I reached out to a friend and former co-worker that I knew was working at the Children’s Law Center (“CLC”) for help and information to apply to the law clerk position with the organization. My friend was kind enough to put in a good word for me and after an interview I was offered a position. This summer I am excited to return to youth law as a law clerk for CLC. CLC takes a holistic approach to serving the best interests of foster children which means that they often have assess whether the children have any additional needs in areas such as mental health, education, or delinquency defense. CLC attorneys often have to make referrals for additional services for the child or become involved in other areas of the case. Unfortunately, foster children often cross-over into the delinquency system and CLC attorneys who have these “cross-over youth” often have to meet and share information with public defenders in order to best serve the youth. I am excited to have the opportunity to advocate for cross-over youth because unfortunately it is common for youth who cross-over into the juvenile delinquency system to get started on a never-ending cycle of instability and entrance into the adult juvenile justice system. Additionally, it is often youth in low-income communities of color, such as the one I grew up in, that end up victims of our juvenile justice system. It is for this reason that I want to become a youth law attorney in order to advocate for the youth of my community. I want to be able to represent children and youth who are a part of both the dependency and delinquency systems in order to help bring stability to their lives and empower them.