Access 2 Justice Intern Testimonials

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Katelyn E. 

A2J Intern, 2022

Alameda County Superior Court

University of Southern California

"My favorite part about being an intern was interacting directly with litigants. We were still in the process of transitioning back to in-person services after covid-19, but even interacting with people over the phone or over zoom was very rewarding because you’re able to hear and see how your work is helping them finish their litigation process. Navigating the courts is tricky for everyone, and I was glad to be someone who could listen and answer questions so people didn’t feel as overwhelmed.

I learned a lot about thinking on the spot because you have to be able to pinpoint key information out of everything the litigant is telling you and figure out the root of their question and what they need to know. I was definitely able to improve my communication skills through this, as well as expand my knowledge about family law and the court system in general.

The people I worked with were amazing. The Alameda County Court staff were so welcoming to me and the other interns, and they made sure I had the opportunity to learn and grow from this experience.

I do think I played a meaningful role in enhancing equal access to justice. Since all the people you are working with are unrepresented, I do believe this program is important for bridging the gap between the legal system and the people who actually have to use it. Being able to translate dense legal requirements/paperwork and communicate it to people in ways that are easy to understand is necessary for an accessible litigation process."

Camille C. 
A2J Intern, 2022
San Francisco ACCESS Center 
University of California, Berkeley

"As an intern, not only was I able to develop strong legal skills in a variety of cases ranging from restraining orders to evictions and small claims, but I could also use these newly-developed skills to impact the community around me. This experience is certainly the most hands-on and meaningful I have had in the legal field. I was able to assist self-represented litigants from beginning to end and use my language skills to act as a bridge between the court and different cultural communities in San Francisco.

Access To Justice allowed me to
enhance my interpersonal skills. I learned to interview customers and adapt my assistance to their specific needs and prior experience with the law. Moreover, I was able to connect with my co-interns and staff at the Access Center. The shared experience of a very intense summer allowed me to develop solid friendships with other volunteers, who remain my close friends to this day.

I had the opportunity of shadowing several professionals at the Superior Court, from lawyers and judges to paralegals and clerks. I learned from their work ethics and methods and was able to engage in meaningful discussions about their professions.

As a tentative human rights lawyer, Access to Justice helped me
gain strong legal skills, considerable exposure to a variety of legal careers, and develop a valuable network of inspiring peers and mentors that I will surely rely on for the rest of my academic and professional path."

Lana D. 
A2J Intern, 2022
San Francisco ACCESS Center 

"As an intern, I worked one-on-one with pro se litigants, providing procedural information and legal assistance for a variety of civil and family law case types. For me, the highlight of this internship was all the time I spent with litigants, hearing their stories, and providing the legal assistance they needed to proceed with their cases. I saw litigants every day wait in front of the courthouse since the earliest morning hours to receive assistance from the ACCESS Center; witnessing this made me feel that being at ACCESS is where I should be and further fueled my desire to do all that I could to help. Knowing that I was assisting litigants who otherwise would not have access to help with legal matters that impact their lives – often in the deepest of ways – made my work through this internship all the more meaningful to me.

Access to justice is of great consequence; the litigants I assisted faced challenging times in their lives that were imbricated with the law – from families being evicted from their homes, parents seeking emergency-basis custody of their children, and unpaid wages recovered through small claims to individuals seeking protection from domestic violence, elder abuse or civil harassment and the challenges of divorce for families and children. Through my one-on-one work with litigants in circumstances like these and more, along with court observation across various departments,
I witnessed daily the factors that can contribute to disparities within the system and the needs of under-resourced litigants as they interface with the law.

I am grateful I was able to directly serve the community and take part in alleviating these barriers to access through this internship. Utilizing my foreign language skills to provide legal assistance for LEP litigants and help them navigate an otherwise opaque and complex legal system was just one of the more evident ways I helped increase access to justice through this internship.

This internship illuminates the role court self-help centers have in helping better fulfill the promise of equal justice; justice should not depend on one’s socioeconomic situation or other life circumstances, and this program provides interns the opportunity to work towards this end. My experiences at the ACCESS Center have further reinforced my desire to pursue law and my commitment to public service – both of which merge together in the Access to Justice internship program."

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