During the summer of 2012, Stephanie Berger, current 3L, worked for ten weeks at the Disability Rights Section of the DOJ Civil Rights Division. The primary job of the Disability Rights Section is to enforce the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and use the ADA to expand civil rights.
As an intern, Stephanie was given a lot of independence and responsibility and was able to take on a wide variety of cases. She investigated employment discrimination cases and made recommendations to the DOJ. She also researched whether delays in supplying medication to prisoners with HIV was a violation of the ADA as well as investigated whether an entity was violating the ADA for refusing to provide options for a mandatory meal plan to someone with food allergies.
Beyond working on issues that interested her, Stephanie was able to hone important skills. Day to day, she considerable research and writing, greatly improving her memo writing. She was also able to develop her legal reasoning skills because she was faced with real questions of fact and not just ones manufactured in the classroom. Stephanie saw how cases were decided not just based on law, but also based on what the best outcome should be, both for the individual client and for people in the future facing that issue. She also received helpful constructive criticism and learned how to balance not just her personal responsibilities but also her responsibilities to her team.
Stephanie really enjoyed working for the DOJ and when asked, could not think of one negative thing to say about her experience. Even as a summer intern she felt like an integrated member of the team and was able to request particular issues she wanted to work on. The atmosphere was friendly, but fast-paced and she liked being involved in an agency doing cutting edge litigation in a wide variety of issues and capacities. The attorneys and interns she worked with were friendly and helpful, and she noted that attorneys seemed happy and were able to balance life and work well.
She had a phenomenal experience and highly recommends anyone to work there. Stephanie is now applying to a variety of positions for next year and hopes to work for the federal government.
Written by OPIA 1L Section Representative Nora Mahlberg