Through the Eyes of the Intern: Colleen Nicholson

Today on the blog we’re doing something a little different.  Instead of telling you about what we’ve been up to here at LAF, we’re letting one of our summer interns do it for us as a guest blogger!  

Colleen Nicholson is a law school student at the University of Michigan, originally from the Chicago area, who has been working with our Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group this summer.  We’ve been lucky to have her with us, and we wish her all the best as the school year starts up again soon.  You can read all about her experience, in her own words, below:  

          It was a somewhat surreal experience. It was my first time in federal court, and the judge read a favorable decision from the bench that directly quoted the brief I had helped write. I will never forget that moment, and I will never forget the rest of my summer internship with LAF, because it was an incredible experience. I worked hard, I learned a lot, and I like to think that I had a positive impact on the clients I represented.

          On the whole, the internship was a great experience, although it was not always quite as wonderful as hearing a federal judge use my phrasing in his opinion. During the first week of my internship, my supervisors were disappointed to lose a jury trial. However, I think that my supervisors can still take pride in having taken another step, no matter how small, towards making our society one that is more just.

I had the opportunity to do a wide variety of assignments, ranging from making copies to interviewing clients and researching for major writing assignments. When I leave, I’ll take new friends, a writing sample, and a new line on my résumé with me, but more importantly I’ll take a world view that is focused on justice for all. My experience at LAF has definitely solidified my commitment to doing public interest work. Whether I end up working at an agency like LAF or end up doing something totally different, this summer will have left a big impression, and I thank everyone at LAF for that. Here are a few of the highlights of an excellent summer internship:

          I wrote an Administrative Review Act brief for an out-of-work grandmother who is the sole breadwinner for her terminally ill son and two grandchildren. I won’t find out for several months the outcome of her appeal, but I’m happy to know that I wrote a high quality document for someone who definitely deserves high quality legal representation.

          I spent days on end researching a case that my practice group ultimately decided not to take for representation. However, at least I know that we made an extremely informed decision. Furthermore, hopefully my research memorandum will prove useful to others at LAF in navigating an obscure topic in the future.

          Perhaps the most interesting experience of all had nothing to do with employment law, which was my focus for the summer. Because my supervisor was working on the case, I got to assist with wading through and sorting out discovery for an exciting case being handled by the Civil Rights Task Force. Although I love employment work, it was fun to get involved in something a little different and learn some new issues. It was also great to see attorneys from different practice groups come together and share their expertise with each other.

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