Reflecting on the past few weeks, it has been an eye-opening experience to intern at a legal non-profit because of the amount of cases they litigate throughout the Midwest with very few staff members. Although their headquarters are in California, they have an office in Chicago with three staff attorneys. Each staff attorney specializes in one field: immigrant rights, employment, education, or voting rights and their cases range from solving a discrimination incident at a public school to working towards creating policy change that is inclusive of communities of color. As an intern, I am surprised with the range of tasks that I have completed thus far. I’ve done everything from work with data on excel to helping research information to help a case gain an advantage. After I finish a project, I am instantly assigned a new project that is not necessarily related to the last field that I investigated. I would have never expected the internship to tackle so many issues at once and to require so much adaptability and creativity. Each project requires the interns to utilize different skills and approaches to discover how to handle a specific case and prevent similar incidents in the future.
Another thing that surprised me about the internship is the office environment. All the attorneys noticeably share similar passions and interests and make it part of their day to check up on each other. The dynamic of the office is often warm and welcoming as the attorneys share laughs and the same frustrations as they get news about the progress of their cases. This is reflected in the way they interact with their interns, always emphasizing that questions are an important part of the process and that they are always willing to give feedback and advice. Additionally, they find it important to plan events that give the interns the opportunity to bond and share their experiences as well as hear about their experiences working at the firm. At first, I was surprised to learn that they are seven MALDEF interns this summer, but working at a legal non-profit during these past few weeks has taught me how under-resourced and time sensitive the non-profit industry is. I’ve learned so much in very little time, and I can confidently say I have discovered another possible career option.