February 7, 2013
Last year, as a 1L, Emily Freeman looked for organizations in New York where she could pursue her interest in special education law. When she found out about New York Legal Assistance Group, an organization that provides free legal services to low-income New Yorkers, she reached out to the director of its special education unit. After her interview, Emily decided to work there.
Emily interned for ten weeks in the special education unit, which provides representation to families of disabled students. Her responsibilities ranged from client meetings to engaging in advocacy groups to research and writing memos. She visited schools, met with parents, filed a complaint, edited a motion for summary judgment, and created an impartial hearing for a client. She described the experience as hands-on and said that it allowed her to go through “each step in the special education litigation process.”
Last summer, Emily was one of about fifty interns and ninety full time attorneys. She described the office as “young and fun with high morale.” NYLAG has a variety of units including domestic violence and housing law. The group often pairs up with major law firms to work on pro-bono cases. Its work includes direct representation, impact litigation, and community education.
The skills Emily gained were not confined to special education law. She was able to improve her legal research and writing skills and interact with clients on a regular basis. Her summer gave her both a practical understanding of special education law as well as the tools necessary to spearhead special education pro bono cases at a firm.
Emily recommends working at the NYLAG and encourages those interested to reach out to find out more information.
Written by OPIA 1L Section Representative Deena Greenberg.