The Legal Aid Society offers rewarding internships for students that provide an opportunity to develop skills and real-world experience serving our clients. We are excited to share stories of impact from our interns, in their own words.
Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University (2025)
Juvenile Rights Practice
After spending my Summer with the Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP), I am even more certain I chose the right profession. On day one of my placement, I had the opportunity to observe a permanency hearing with my supervising attorney, in which I also met the judge. I like to joke that I was “thrown in a thirty-foot pool.” It was exciting! My supervising attorney explained the procedural and substantive aspects of the case and answered any questions I had. As time progressed, I began observing fact-findings, emergency hearings, and client interviews. In one case, I was able to review discovery documents, formulate questions, and appear on the record for a preliminary conference. In addition to learning legal jargon and child protective law, I became familiar with the decorum associated with standing before a judge.
I have even attended child protective (CP) intake and delinquency (D) intake a few times. On CP intake, I read through the petition and subsequently observed how the attorneys took ACS family history and the “dispute” into account when litigating a placement for the child. I was even “given” a case by my supervising attorney, who allowed me to appear on the record. I stood up before the judge, gave our position on the Order of Protection (OOP), and asked a few questions. I thought I would be more nervous, but my supervising attorney primed me for it since day one! On D intake, I spent some time in the Supreme Court to observe a few removals, reviewed police complaints, and attended a client interview in the detention center.
Overall, the JRP gave me an unforgettable experience. The team was insightful beyond measure. A special thank you to Jaclyn Goodman who exceeded my expectations of what a supervising attorney is, and to Lori Masco who welcomed me with open arms.
Brooklyn Law School, 2024
Civil Practice, Immigration Unit
I had a really wonderful experience at Legal Aid this summer. My supervisor, Carina Patritti, made the experience enjoyable and challenging. I felt supported and learned a tremendous amount from her. I had the opportunity to work on several cases throughout the summer including Asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Employment Authorization, U Visa, and a 601A Waiver. While I balanced multiple clients and assisted my supervisor in many applications for clients throughout the summer, I specifically focused on the two cases described below.
One client, a young girl from Central America, came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor several years ago. She has a qualifying asylum case pending now, based on the severe abuse she was subjected to in her home country. While waiting to hear on her asylum status, she was unfortunately assaulted on her way home from the store near her house. She was robbed and held up with a knife, while the perpetrator threatened her. She assisted with the prosecution of the man, and he was convicted for felonious assault. Because she was the survivor of a crime committed against her in the U.S., she then qualified for a U Visa which allows unlawful immigrants to stay in the country. I took the lead on helping her with this application. We had several meetings together where I interviewed her about her experience in order to write an affidavit for the court. Throughout the summer, I was in contact with her and her mom to fill out the necessary forms and compile a packet of evidence to prove her case to the immigration officers. Finally, after several weeks of preparation, her application was submitted on August 1st. Now, she has two separate but equally compelling immigration applications moving through the system.
My second major client, a young man from Mexico, came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor a few years ago. He met his now wife, a U.S. citizen and they have two young children together. They have filled out an application to petition the immigration officers to allow him to stay in the country due to be married to a U.S. citizen. During the summer, I compiled an application for a 601A Waiver, a provisional waiver of unlawful presence, to eventually apply for his green card. As part of this application, I interviewed the client, his wife, and his motherin-law to show supporting evidence that his presence in the U.S. is beneficial for everyone. We drafted affidavits for all the major parties involved in their day to day lives and compiled evidence to show that his U.S. citizen wife would suffer extreme hardship if he were to be removed back to Mexico. Throughout this process, the couple discovered that they are pregnant with their third child! It was a rewarding experience to meet their whole family and work with them for the past two months. Finally, I was able submit the 200-page application packet which included evidence to show the immigration officers the strength of our case.
Joel Matta recently graduated with his BA in Psychology and is enrolled to study Industrial Organizational Psychology at Hofstra University. He interned with the Recruitment Department.
I’ve enjoyed working with kind and devoted people who create a welcoming workplace environment. Learning about the full-cycle recruitment process and how it works has been intriguing. Even so, the effect it has on a company. My internship helped me develop skills that I can utilize going forward. I’m curious to learn more about different workforce practices and how The Legal Aid Society serves its clients.
Salma Elsayed is an undergraduate who interned for the Juvenile Rights Practice Education Advocacy Project.
As an undergraduate intern for the Education Advocacy Project (EAP) this summer, I have really enjoyed working on a tight-knit and supportive team. I have been exposed to a variety of cases within EAP and the JRP by working on suspension appeals, observing child protective intake, participating in client interviews and attending IEP meetings.
Although I was unsure of whether I wanted to apply to law school prior to the start of this internship, I have been in awe of the passion and advocacy of the Legal Aid attorneys I have worked with. I know now that I want to be a public defender, and I have found myself particularly interested in juvenile delinquency cases. I hope to return to the Legal Aid Society in several years!
Dylan Marks is a rising 2L at UC Davis School of Law, who interned with the Juvenile Rights Practice.
The first week of my internship was eventful. After completing orientation and training, I was introduced in-person to the Juvenile Right Practice team to which I’ve been assigned as an intern: an interdisciplinary team of attorneys, paralegals, and social workers who tenaciously defend the rights, needs, and interests of children who appear in Family Courts in New York. They’ve been so welcoming and helpful. Many of the attorneys I’ve met have offered to have me shadow them in court and review the incredible work they are doing in the field. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about work.
I’ve already had the privilege to attend court for intake, a hearing where children are first assigned an LAS attorney after an initial petition has been filed by the Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) for abuse and/or neglect allegation(s). Twenty minutes after arriving at the office on my first day, my LAS internship coordinator invited me to sit in on a permanency hearing, held to ensure that ACS is meeting its obligations under the law and to review a parent’s compliance with an individualized service plan recommended by the agency. Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll have an opportunity to participate in client interviews, attend a fact-finding hearing, and conduct legal research for my LAS direct supervisor. Working alongside and observing attorneys like Kimberly Wong, Esq. and Angela Hines, Esq. advocate for their clients has been such an incredible and inspiring experience.”
Last Updated: 11 September 2023
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