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We Asked Our Interns...

We Asked Our Interns...

Each year, our law student interns work on a variety of interesting and important projects. Our internship program allows law students to gain valuable experience and expand their knowledge of public interest law. We recently asked our law students what they are working on. Here's what they told us:

"I am advocating on behalf of a client whose mental health status made him unable to attend his own disability hearing.  He cannot maintain employment because of his schizophrenia and desperately needs SSI to meet basic needs." - Jessica Berger, Aging and Disabilities Unit

"I have been working with a new prisoner reentry program in the Court of Common Pleas to evaluate potential unmet civil legal needs. It's been great to learn more about employment law cases that we work on -- I've interviewed a number of clients to prepare wage claims, evaluate the status of pension/retirement plans, and even filed a writ of execution to enforce a judgment against a former employer for unpaid wages."  - Emily Bock, Employment Unit

“I work with our clients to fight off foreclosure and stay in their homes. I also help protect our clients from predatory loans and other fraudulent financial schemes. In fact, I recently drafted a deed to help a client obtain a loan modification which will allow him to  keep his home.” - Matthew Devine, Homeownership and Consumer Law Unit

"I am working for the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force (PHTF) in partnership with CLS's housing unit as a Samuel S. Fels research fellow. I am developing a report on the scope and cost of hoarding behavior in the city of Philadelphia for PHTF's ultimate intent to offer integrated and effective preventative services for people challenged with hoarding behavior."  - Shahirah Gillespie, Housing Unit

"I have been working on an amicus brief that is going to be filed with the Supreme Court of PA later this month. This brief is supporting the proposition that the state must make reasonable efforts-provide adequate services to address the circumstances that caused the children to be removed from the home in order to facilitate reunification with the family-before a parent's rights to their children can be permanently terminated."  - Arona Gur, Family Advocacy Unit

"I have been developing an understanding of the Pennsylvania Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act and how it intersects with the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Pennsylvania consumer-protection statutes, so that CLS can create a guide for attorneys explaining defenses available to prevent tax foreclosures of homesteads in Philadelphia."  - Catherine Martin, Homeownership and Consumer Law Unit

"I am helping a Mariel Boatlift refugee with behavioral health issues obtain her SSI and Social Security. There is a little-known rule that allows Cuban refugees with disabilities to receive these benefits. Once she is awarded benefits, she will have a dependable income to help support her needs."  - Kaley Martin, Aging and Disabilities Unit

"I work on assisting clients with issues related to their SSI disability benefits. I have had the opportunity to help draft appeal briefs, complaints, and other letters to the Social Security Agency. In addition to SSI work, I have also had the privilege of assisting clients with some welfare related issues, particularly those involving food stamps."  - Jack Regenbogen, Public Benefits Unit

"I provide assistance and information to people that have called our utility hotline with utility issues or shut-off notices. Recently, after a client was threatened with an electricity shut off due to payment difficulties, I helped this client demonstrate to PECO that he should be put on a more affordable billing payment arrangement due to long-term changes in his income. I have also had the opportunity attend a community outreach discussion at CHOP, in which the Energy Unit provided information to doctors and nurses about how they can help low-income patients with utility problems."  - Justin Ruffini, Energy Unit

"My time is split between managing open welfare cases and researching Medicaid expansion. Recently, I helped a victim of domestic violence lift a sanction on her and her child's cash assistance after the abuser's uncooperativeness with welfare policies caused a sanction to be placed on the whole family."  - Amanda Webb, Public Benefits Unit

"I interviewed and wrote a complaint on behalf of a client who was improperly discharged from a nursing home to an unlicensed boarding home where the conditions and care were very poor.   A state agency is now investigating the boarding home to make sure that its residents get the care they need or are moved to where they can get better housing and care." - Jasmine Smith, Aging and Disabilities Unit

“I am working on a variety of cases, which is a great way to learn and experience employment law. Of the many people who do not receive payment of wages for work performed, one client literally cried over the phone because he was so excited we could help him in pursuing his unpaid wages. His claim is relatively small, but would be a huge boost to him, both financially and emotionally. He told me that he knows he isn’t owed a huge amount of wages, but he also knows he deserves pay for an honest day’s work.” - Eva Zelson, Employment Unit

"My work involves offering information to people who are facing utility shut-off on how to prevent the shut-off and catch up with their utility bills. I have successfully helped a senior couple who have been wrongfully billed to reduce their water bill by almost $8,000. This prevented a lien on their property and ensured that they can maintain life-essential water service."  - Jingchen Zhou, Energy Unit