In the Public Interest

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Anea Moore, COL ’19

When my dad first told me he wanted me to be a lawyer, I was five years old and instantly intimidated by the word. Lawyer. Nope, this profession definitely wasn’t for me. Big-eyed, three and a half foot me quickly retorted that I had no desire to be a lawyer whatsoever. Lawyers were mean. They were scary and they most certainly didn’t do what I wanted to do, help people.

It’s been a decade and a half since that conversation with my dad and a lot has changed since then. I’m taller and I’m a little bit less quick in my replies. My dad passed away two and a half years ago and instead of ignoring his suggestions, I’ve learned to cherish and carry them with me. It was probably my dad’s spirit that first pushed me to looking into being a legal intern at the Public Interest Law Center this summer.

During my time at the law center, I learned a variety of lessons. First, not all lawyers are mean and they are all definitely not scary. Within the walls of the second floor of a downtown Philadelphia building, I found wisdom, support, and patience in my supervising attorneys. When I made small mistakes in my legal assignments, I wasn’t met with negative reactions. The attorneys of the center supported me as a young college student trying to decide if she really wanted to pursue a legal career. They encouraged me to review and rework my assignments. Through this editing process, I learned how to become a more detail-oriented researcher and writer. My reading, writing, research, and analytical skills improved immensely. I learned how to look at things from a different perspective through deep engagement with the real life cases of the attorneys. Once after a deposition, I had to asses the gathered information and begun looking into loopholes and other possibilities. Paying attention to the details and really getting to know the ins and outs of the cases was so important. Those actions are what helped the clients the most.

This brings me to another point, lawyers can and do help people everyday. I watched the attorneys pursue incredibly interesting cases and work this summer that can potentially help so many people. In June, the law center filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania that took a stand against gerrymandering and called for the redrawing of fair districts because every citizen’s vote should matter. I created a 40-page report on the least restrictive environment requirements of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act and Philadelphia schools because every special education student in Philadelphia (and around the country) has the right to a proper, fair educational environment. I also spent a large proportion of my summer helping with cases that were fighting for fair housing for low-income citizens.

My summer was filled with so much inspiration, passion, and vigor. The attorneys and staff at the center genuinely want to help people and often work long hours in pursuit of a better, more just society. I will be forever grateful to them for letting me work under them and witness such an amazing process. I definitely want to be attorneys like them in the future, all hesitation and quick-witted responses aside.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.