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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I Did This Summer: Joyell Johnson ’15, Law Clerk, Catholic Charities of Baltimore, Esperanza Center

Joyell Johnson is a second-year day student at New England Law | Boston. This past summer she worked as a law clerk for the Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Esperanza Center. As part of our the November blog series highlighting student work, Joyell writes about her summer experience and explains how she found her internship.

This summer, I had the pleasure of being a law clerk at Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Esperanza Center. Had it not been for my professors and the Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR), I would have missed out on the best 1L summer experience. I did not enter law school with an interest in immigration law. However, working with real clients applying for lawful status in the United States strengthened my legal skills, and provided me with a strong foundation for becoming a practicing attorney.

After taking a couple of years off following college graduation, I decided to pursue law school for international human rights law. It was not until I met with my constitutional law professor, that I discovered my interest in working for the government. He was the first person to put the immigration law “bug” in my ear as a way to merge my interests in government and international law. Unfortunately, I did not meet with him until the middle of January, when many application deadlines had passed or were too soon for me to be fully considered as a possible candidate. Because I started my application research later than expected (and yes, January is late for internships in certain fields of law) I was not eligible to apply for most legal positions I found. Nevertheless, I was determined to find a summer internship. I decided to continue meeting with various legal professionals who may have suggestions for securing the right internship.

At the end of January, I met with the CLSR’s fellow, Erika Barber, to discuss whether I would be a good fit for the new public interest fellowship offered at New England Law | Boston. Little did I know that the fellow would connect me with New England alumna, Adonia Simpson’09, in Baltimore, Maryland. During our informal meeting in the school’s lobby, I expressed my law interests and flexibility with interning outside of Boston. Erika then mentioned she knew Adonia, who is a managing attorney at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, hired summer interns to work on immigration cases. She asked me to send her my personal statement and resumé so that she could then forward them to Adonia. I immediately scheduled an appointment with Mandie LeBeau in the Career Services Office to make sure my resumé was up to par. I am grateful Mandie spent quality time restructuring my resumé. Since then, I have met with Susan Molinari and Mandie to update my resumé after my summer internship. I am more confident in my resumé highlighting my experience and being a good first impression for future employers.

By February, I had sent my personal statement and resumé to Erika. She forwarded my materials to Adonia, who offered me a summer position before March. Additionally, I was selected to be a public interest fellow through the law school’s summer fellowship program, which funded my law clerk position at Catholic Charities of Baltimore. I thought my time at Catholic Charities of Baltimore would just consist of research, but I was asked to write a motion on my first day! I worked directly with clients applying for asylum, lawful permanent residence, deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), and u visas under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I drafted motions, personal affidavits, and research conditions on a regular basis. The supervising attorneys treated me more like an attorney and less like a student, which I appreciated.

Looking back, the only reason I secured such a great internship was because I networked. I did not come to law school from a legal background, so I asked many questions about how to find the right internship to give me quality experience. I was lucky enough to do just that.

- Joyell Johnson, Class of 2015

Students have access to internship and postgraduate job postings and can participate in on- and off-campus recruitment programs through our Symplicity site. To access, you will need your Student ID# and a password (sent to you in November of your first year.) If you don't have a password, please email the Career Services Office (CSO) at To identify your own career goals and create a personalized job search strategy, call the CSO at 617-422-7229 to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

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