Summer is always eventful at The Pro Bono Project between the excitement surrounding JFAB preparations and managing the day-to-day work around clients, cases and volunteers! Those volunteers often include a group of summer interns/externs who come to The Project from area law schools to apply what they’ve learned in school to the real world of legal work with clients, volunteer lawyers, staff and others. They’ve been at The Project for about 10 weeks and are currently wrapping up their work before returning to school.
This year’s intern group included Mike Kasper and Samantha Fox, who came by way of Loyola College of Law’s Gillis Long Poverty Law Center summer intern program; Kirk Evans of Tulane Law, an extern for the Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) and Christopher Freire of Loyola College of Law’s summer immigration clinic; and Janie Boneta of Loyola College of Law, who we shared with the Louisiana State Bar Association, where she had an internship with LSBA’s self-represented litigants counsel, Michael Schachtman.
Mike and Samantha worked extensively with staff paralegal Zakiya LaGrange and staff attorney Ona Dudonis on divorces and successions. Mike also worked with the consumer and bankruptcy program and facilitated bankruptcy clinics held weekly for clients with long-time volunteer and bankruptcy attorney Bill Cherbonnier.
Janie worked on divorces with Zakiya, lent her hand to the weekly provisional custody by mandate clinic, and was a first point of contact on the phone when Robin Roper, intake coordinator, was supervising the 24th JDC self-help desk.
“The most valuable thing I’ve learned from working as an intern at The Pro Bono Project is that I can be a more effective legal advocate by tapping into my compassion and empathy. Law school teaches me legal theory but interning at The Pro Bono Project has taught me to maintain my humanity,” said Janie.
The MLP benefitted from the work of two of our interns this summer.
As a part of his experience at The Project, Kirk learned about the ins and outs of this collaborative effort – especially timely with staff attorney Pat Guzman-Weema on maternity leave (It’s a boy!). While Christopher came to The Project by our request every Friday from Loyola Law’s summer immigration clinic to handle our Spanish language intake at the MLP clinic, as well as in the office. Thanks to our partnership with Loyola Law’s clinic program we were able to make sure our Spanish-speaking clients were well taken care of in Pat’s absence.
Kirk also spent time with Ona gaining an understanding of the succession process, and subsequently, working on succession cases.
“The most valuable part of my summer experience at the Pro Bono Project was the opportunity it provided for me to constantly interact with the staff attorneys. Because it’s a small office, I was usually working fifteen feet away from my supervising attorney. Thus, I received constant feedback and got to see how she handled the many different aspects of her work,” explained Kirk.
This kind of hands-on experience is rare for most new lawyers, let alone law students. By continuing to open our doors to the these passionate and committed soon-to-be lawyers, we are helping to shape the future of the legal business, while providing an insider’s view of public service law.