A summer of service for thirteen Dickinson Law students
Thirteen rising second- and third-year law students at Dickinson Law are spending their summers working for public interest organizations throughout the Commonwealth as Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) fellows and Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. interns. The students will advocate for underrepresented community members with limited financial means—providing a valuable public service and gaining a rewarding opportunity to give back.
“These summer fellow and internship opportunities allow students to meet and interact with seasoned attorneys who are committed to public interest work, as well as other students who may become colleagues in public interest work moving forward,” said Lauren Hartley Martin, recruitment coordinator, Dickinson Law. “They can build and continue to expand on a network of professional contacts and colleagues early in their career.”
Managed by PLAN, the MLK Jr. Summer Internship Program is an integral part of the organization’s goal to initiate new lawyers to the lifelong commitment of providing access to justice for all individuals regardless of their ability to pay. Dickinson Law uses some of its IOLTA grant to fund student summer fellowship positions which allow Dickinson Law students to work in various public interest law offices across Pennsylvania.
“The MLK Jr. Summer Internship Program's mission statement is to provide equal access to justice for all—a goal that mirrored my desire to attend law school to help those who, without legal aid, may not be able to access the legal system,” said rising third-year law student and Certified Legal Intern Emma Jobinpicard. “I have been involved with Protection from Abuse cases, helping individuals gain protection through the civil legal system that they may not otherwise have been able to secure without legal services. I love interacting with clients and hearing their individual stories.”
Students will have direct contact and will work with their supervising attorneys to provide legal representation of indigent clients. They will conduct client interviews and legal research, and will draft legal memoranda and documents. Their work will include a range of issues, including family law, consumer and utility law, health law, employment law, housing law, tax law, landlord/tenant law, and immigration law. Students who are Certified Legal Interns will participate in court and administrative proceedings.
Rising second-year law student Marcus Spisso pursued an IOLTA fellowship because he had a strong desire to work in legal aid over the summer. “I came to law school wanting to give people a voice in the law,” said Spisso. “I’m able to do that by working with clients who otherwise would not have the funds to afford legal representation.”
The students recently completed a poverty law orientation session hosted by PLAN at the Dauphin County Bar Association. Seasoned attorneys in attendance presented an overview of the substantive legal areas that the students will work on this summer, as well as an overview of client interviewing skills, legal ethics, and professional responsibility.
Hartley Martin noted that while each organization will provide further training specific to that student’s particular work, the poverty law orientation session allows them to see the bigger picture of the other issues their clients may be facing.
“I have really enjoyed the client interaction and the ability to see a case from the client interview through the court proceedings," Spisso said. "I believe this experience will teach me how to interact with members of the community who might have suffered from serious abuse, mental illness, or drug problems. It is honestly a humbling experience to be able to serve these clients and have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.”
Ten Dickinson Law students were awarded IOLTA summer fellowships: Spencer Bradley (Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, West Chester), Ian Brinkman (MidPenn Legal Services, York), Ben Forbes (MidPenn Legal Services, Pottsville), Chelsea Hicking (MidPenn Legal Services, Carlisle), Caroline Koko (YWCA Harrisburg Domestic Violence Legal Center), Isaac Schaphorst (MidPenn Legal Services, Lebanon), Marcus Spisso (Laurel Legal Services, Westmoreland County), and Barrett Ziegler (Community Justice Project, Harrisburg), all rising second-year students; and rising third-year students Jose Perez (MidPenn Legal Services, Lancaster) and Erin Varley (Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center).
Three Dickinson Law students were named MLK Jr. summer interns: rising second-year law student Chantel Briggs (Community Justice Project, Harrisburg), and rising third-year law students Emma Jobinpicard (North Penn Legal Services, Williamsport) and Marissa Lawall (Pennsylvania Health Law Project, Harrisburg).
Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Marcus Spisso, Isaac Schaphorst, Spencer Bradley, Emma Jobinpicard, Barrett Ziegler, Jose Perez, Ben Forbes, Caroline Koko, Chantel Briggs, Marissa Lawall and Ian Brinkman. Not pictured: Chelsea Hicking and Erin Varley