Students working in public interest law blog about summer experiences

Many NYU School of Law students had summer experiences worth writing home about, but five of them, constituting a small sample of the wide range of students' summer endeavors, wrote about their activities for a broader audience. Briana Beltran ’11, William Frank ’11, Monica Iyer ’10, Emerson Sykes ’11, and Doug Wyatt ’10, all beneficiaries of the Public Interest Law Center’s Summer Funding Program, described what it was like working for public interest organizations around the world on Field Notes, a PILC blog. The PILC Summer Funding Program guarantees funding for all 1Ls and 2Ls with public interest and government summer positions. This year, close to 350 students participated.

At the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Beltran spent much of her time researching a proposed wage theft ordinance for Los Angeles, where the organization is based. NDLON has been advocating for such an ordinance, which would make wage nonpayment a misdemeanor, to address the common problem of day laborers who are not fully paid for their work. Four hundred miles to the north, Frank was busy writing memos on legal topics such as copyright and online privacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. Iyer, in contrast, spent her summer less than two miles from campus, at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Two of the students traveled to Africa. Sykes tackled issues related to human rights abuses during his time at Search for Common Ground, an international NGO with offices around the globe that is working to transform the world’s methods of dealing with conflict from adversarial to collaborative. Stationed in Bukavu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sykes worked on an evaluation and monitoring regime for a project in cooperation with the Congolese military to increase awareness and reporting of human rights abuses. At the Open Society Justice Initiative in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Wyatt was part of a project to expand community-based paralegal services nationally, working to help design paralegal training, build infrastructure for new paralegal organizations, and support legislation to formalize paralegals’ role in the legal system of Sierra Leone, where the scarcity of lawyers makes paralegals a crucial source of justice.

Posted on September 3, 2009