Another Summer Series post! Summer Series showcases different experiences of Lawtinas throughout the country, whether they be pre-laws, law grads, or rising 2L/3Ls. This helps show all the diverse work and experiences that come with working in the law and through law school. Today we hear from Rachelle Ramirez, a rising 2L, who recently conquered her first year and is now experiencing her first legal summer.
We’ve all heard horror stories about law school. Getting cold-called when you haven’t read a single case in the last week or when you fail the class you thought you had in the bag. But what really worried me the most was the search for my 1L Summer Internship. They say that that your internship between your 1L and 2L years really makes or breaks what you do the rest of law school. Needless to say, I was scared.
I rewrote and edited my resume and cover letters dozens (and I mean dozens) of times. I was freaking out thinking I wouldn’t get any offers. On top of that, we were in a middle of a pandemic, and I had to make an impression and stand out from the thousands of other students applying to the same organizations I was….through zoom. Interviews came and went and despite what my imposter syndrome believed; I got 5 offers!
One of the organizations that offered me a position happened to be one of the most empowering youth development nonprofits in the country. I always knew I wanted to work with juveniles, so this was a dream come true. The position would be in their Legal Services Center working with undocumented youth. Immigration law and policies have always intrigued me and as a Latina, has affected my family and my community in multiple ways. I accepted right away and was excited to get started and learn little by little how to help these kids that needed it.
Boy was I wrong about “little by little”. The first week my supervisor got hit with a Special Juvenile Immigrant Status case in which the petitioning child was turning 21….in 2 weeks! Usually, SIJ cases are done in a few months (2-5 months) and the child is ineligible to receive this special visa after they turn 21. But my supervisor took the case and asked me to help. I was hesitant at first, I mean, this was my first real legal job. What if I messed up and we lost the case?
My supervisor assured me that we could do this, and we went to work. I called the client and did the initial intake with my supervisor. I wrote my first affidavit that was not pretend and…. My supervisor said it was fantastic! I couldn’t believe it. In between this emergency case, I wrote three more affidavits. I was in charge of writing the motion for Special Findings while my supervisor did all the paperwork for the Proposed Guardianship and the Order to Show Cause. I was in charge of Process of Service and was able to get a relative of the petitioning child to personally serve her parents in her native country. I translated all the documents and notarized all the important information. I was kicking ass!
Finally came the day of the hearing. The judge was not in a good mood and apparently all our paperwork was missing. The hearing was pushed 3 times that day and it was the last day to get the all the paperwork together to send to USCIS before our client aged out and would be barred from SIJ forever. It was beyond stressful.
In the end, the judge granted all the motion and sent the orders right away. I got our client to sign all the last-minute paperwork and put it in the envelope. My supervisor to drop off it off at FedEx. It was like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I just helped someone get a pathway to citizenship and I can’t wait to help many others.
I was thrown into the fire my first week of my internship… and I survived. And so will you. To my future lawyers and law students, know that you will develop the skills you need to zealously advocate for your clients. Your 1L Summer internship is going to be an amazing experience. Don’t dread it like I did. Don’t ever give up. Do it for your future clients who need you. We need more Latinas like you out in the field.
Si se puede!