testimonials from former summer clerks
Our program provides a unique opportunity for interns to be involved in developing significant impact advocacy including litigation. Below are testimonials from our prior interns
It's one thing to talk 'the talk' about wanting to make a difference. But it takes an entirely different level of commitment to walk 'the walk.' My summer experience at Appleseed taught me how to those transform altruistic desires to effect change into meaningful, significant actions of progress. You become part of the very change that we are all waiting for. --Zach DiIonno, 3L, William S. Richardson School of Law
It was an honor to intern at an organization that does such tremendous work for marginalized members of the community. During my summer internship at the Hawaii Appleseed Center I worked with members of the Native Hawaiian community to improve the plight of former paʻahao, whom are greatly disenfranchised after release from prison. This work was not only rewarding, but it provided me with susbstancial research and writing experiance that has been an asset to my academic career. - Taryn Kaili, Senior, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Working at the Hawaii Appleseed Center was an excellent experience. I had the opportunity to work with talented and caring community leaders, politicians, and community members on housing projects that were crucial to homeless and low income individuals in Hawaii. The staff at the Hawaii Appleseed Center valued my opinions as an intern, and I was able to offer my thoughts for projects on which my fellow interns worked. From writing a policy paper on affordable housing options for low income individuals to presenting my research to a state legislative committee, the Hawaii Appleseed Center gave me wholly satisfying experience working in a public advocacy organization. -John Schemitsch, 2L, Fordham University School of Law
A summer internship at Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice is guaranteed to be a professionally valuable and personally rewarding experience. The leadership and staff are knowledgeable and experienced, they value and respect interns’ opinions and judgment, and they care deeply about each other and their communities. Hawai’i Appleseed LEJ is a unique place in that they are a warm community unto themselves while they also remain firmly dedicated to their mission to serve those on the islands who are most in need. While this internship is not recommended for those who are interested in litigation experience, it is ideal for those who want to gain legal research and community outreach and advocacy skills. Interns must be creative, flexible, and willing to tackle any number of issues or projects that affect indigent communities. My summer at LEJ was one of the most precious experiences of my life - in the office and out - and I wholeheartedly recommend LEJ to interested interns. --Morwenna Steinerson, 2L, CUNY School of Law
This summer I researched and wrote policy papers, met with legislators and community members, presented my findings to various groups, and found myself learning an amazing amount about the lobbying process and the various tax initiatives I worked on. Working closely with Victor on both a substantive and an organizational level, both my writing and presenting skills improved. The internship I had at LEJ this summer is one I can look back on only with fondness for the work I did, for the people I met and worked with, and for the learning experience I was given the chance to participate in.
--Yonatan Herzbrun, 2L, Brooklyn Law School
My summer at LEJ was an incredible opportunity to delve into public interest law, learn about systemic issues affecting low-income people in Hawai'i, and make a real contribution to this community. As an undergraduate, I gained unique exposure to law and the workings of a nonprofit, extensive experience in research and writing, and met an amazing group of colleagues and friends. Through my research on issues affecting Hawai'i's Micronesian community, I was not just confined to a desk, but conducted work within that community, interviewing a range of individuals. My work allowed me to obtain a deep understanding of the situation of this marginalized migrant group, profoundly impacting me both academically and personally. In addition, the community of people I met both at LEJ and through LEJ inspired me with their unparalleled dedication to public service. If you are interested in public interest law and social justice for the people of Hawai'i, intern at LEJ. --Anita B. Hofschneider, Senior, Harvard University, 2011.
“My summer clerkship with Lawyers for Equal Justice was a very enjoyable and
rewarding experience. I came to Hawaii with a general idea of public interest law and walked away with invaluable experience and a new found passion regarding immigrant rights and juvenile justice. From the beginning, the entire office was extremely encouraging, providing guidance while at the same time giving us the freedom and confidence to conduct outreach and attend meetings within the local community. Not only did I learn a great deal from my own research, but the weekly staff meetings really opened my eyes to other issues affecting low-income populations, including public housing shortages and language access barriers. Getting involved with LEJ and their work in Hawai’i was an incredible experience - I highly recommend it to anyone interested in public interest law.” Kelsy Sargent, 2L, Colorado Law School, 2011.
"The most rewarding aspect of my summer clerkship was participating in systemic advocacy and observing how impact litigation and organizing for social change can become complementary tools. I enjoyed working for a non-profit organization that is fiercely dedicated to public interest and learning from mentors who patiently guided me through understanding the process and procedures of class action litigation. Although I was aware at the beginning of my law school career that I would work in public interest, LEJ provided me with real work experience and the opportunity to contribute to the social justice movement in Hawai‘i." Fawn Jade Koopman, William S. Richardson School of Law, 2011
"Lawyers for Equal Justice (LEJ) was a one-of-a-kind experience that very few law students get to have. I was able to put the skills I learned in my first year of law school to good use. My projects took me out of the office, to attend meetings at the state capitol, restaurants, and prestigious law offices. My projects also allowed me to improve my research skills and meet numerous practicing attorneys that worked as politicians and public interest advocates. In addition to working on our projects, the summer interns were encouraged to attend a court hearing and a COFA rally for Micronesian rights at the Governor's office. There are not too many legal jobs where you feel like you are making a positive substantial difference in the lives of those less fortunate than yourself. LEJ gives you that opportunity. I would recommend this experience to anyone interested in public interest law." Jamie Young, William S. Richardson School of Law, 2011.
"My summer clerkship with LEJ was both fun and educationally rewarding. I not only received a valuable introduction to public interest law, but I had the opportunity to work on several substantive issues of importance to the low-income people of Hawai`i. While each intern has a different set of projects, our work often went beyond legal research and writing, taking us out of the office. I participated in outreach visits to shelters, attended a client meeting, and conducted interviews with community members. Because LEJ is a small organization, interns are given sizable responsibilities and our work assignments, by necessity, are meaningful. Interns, moreover, have constant and individualized contact with attorneys. The office atmosphere is laidback, collegial, yet fervently devoted to making systemic change." Rebecca Wolitz, 2L, Yale Law School, 2010.
"I loved my summer working at LEJ. I felt encouraged to take responsibility and given a great deal of flexibility with my projects. At the same time, the attorneys would not hesitate to contribute their considerable knowledge and expertise if I had any questions. Working in such a small organization allowed me to see firsthand the many challenges and rewards of advocacy work. I was impressed with the flexibility and resolve with which LEJ approaches poverty law issues in Hawai`i. I would highly encourage other law students looking into a career in public interest advocacy to spend a summer with LEJ Hawai`i. I learned a great deal and my experience has further encouraged me to pursue a career in public interest after law school." Dylan Casey, NYU School of Law, 2010.
As a summer intern with LEJ, I learned about poverty law and the unique legal needs of Hawai`i’s low income community. My summer work included analyzing the rights of public housing residents, conducting research on Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment public benefits, and researching and collecting data on Hawai`i’s summary possession (eviction) process for an eviction defense study set to come out in the coming months. I witnessed first-hand the benefits conferred on society and individuals by public interest organizations and legal service providers. My work and the work of the other legal interns laid the foundation for Lawyers for Equal Justice to pursue both litigation and legislative advocacy into the next year. Jessica Freedman, William S. Richardson School of Law, 2010.
"During my summer at LEJ I was able to work with a great team of law students and attorneys, collaborating on a study of Hawai`i's eviction process. Although only an undergraduate, I was given substantial writing and research opportunities. The work environment allowed me a lot of independence, but also as much guidance as I needed. The attorneys and law students were always friendly and helpful. I also felt like everything I did was contributing to important reform that would help real people. Perhaps the best thing I can say about LEJ is that if LEJ is what law is about, I would like to go to law school." Matt Choy, Senior, Yale University, 2010.
"LEJ provided me with a truly wonderful introduction to public interest law. At LEJ I was able to further develop the legal analytical and lawyering skills I learned during my first year at NYU Law. Not only did I do substantial legal research in a number of interesting areas related to public education and foster care, but I also talked directly to members of the Hawai`i community about these issues, and I felt like I was actually making a difference. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to attend a court hearing, attend depositions, and was able to interview potential plaintiffs for a public housing case. The LEJ staff was always open to my thoughts on any direction I should take in my research, and always made sure that my experience was rewarding. I would recommend an internship at LEJ to any law student with an interest in public interest work, and especially to any students with an interest in helping the under-represented people of Hawai`i." Mia Munro, NYU School of Law, 2009.
"I had never been to Hawai`i before my internship with Lawyers for Equal Justice and had no idea what to expect when I boarded a plane bound for Honolulu, but I figured that in the worst case scenario I would spend a summer exploring the islands. At LEJ I quickly became occupied with some on-going projects, and began a research project of my own. Because of the small office it was very easy to get involved and the supervising attorneys were both friendly and helpful. I really enjoyed spending the summer learning about class action litigation and appreciated all the help and guidance." Whitney Patross, Cornell Law School, 2009.
LEJ provided the rare opportunity to be truly involved with any and all aspects of public interest litigation. I really appreciated the ability to customize my work over the summer to focus on areas that were of the greatest interest to me. While working on issues of environmental justice, I was able to meet with other non-profit organizations and community groups, leard about the issues and history affecting Hawai`ian communities, and therefore felt as though my research could really be beneficial. I highly recommend LEJ for anyone who desires to work in a small and friendly office where they will be given interesting topics and freedom to customize their research and experience." Josh Gange, NYU School of Law, 2009.