Summer Plans

Posted: February 25, 2009 in Justice

Well, I decided on a summer job. I ended up with a few options, and after thinking through all the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to accept the internship offered by Public Counsel Law Center.

It’s kind of cool to say that I’ll be working for the largest pro bono public interest firm in the world. Public Counsel is the public interest arm of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and it is also the local affiliate of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It serves around 27,000 needy people a year.

It has six project areas, and I will be working with the Homelessness Prevention Law Project. I’ve been told that there will be about a dozen interns working in this particular project. From what I understand, I will conduct trainings for practicing attorneys to teach them the in’s and out’s of the public benefits available to the people we will serve, along with doing field visits to our offices set up in various Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services sites.

Ought to make for an interesting summer.

I get the picture that I will be doing most of my work in the Emergency Food & Shelter aspect of our project. Here’s the blurb about it from Public Counsel’s website:

Public Counsel operates the largest and longest established legal advocacy program on-site in multiple offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), where impoverished, hungry and homeless individuals are most likely to need advice and advocacy assistance. Each year hundreds of volunteer law students and attorneys assist clients with shelter, food, health, transportation and social service needs through this effort. Without these volunteer advocates, many of Public Counsel’s clients would not receive the benefits and services to which they are legally entitled, and which play a vital role in preventing chronic homelessness by helping people stay off the streets and move towards self-sufficiency. The project also attempts to impact policy decisions affecting this desperately poor population through testimony before government agencies, dialogue with DPSS officials, and collaboration with community-based organizations.

I noticed that a Pepperdine 3L is featured on the website as one of the most valuable volunteers at Public Counsel. Aside from the Pepperdine connection, I really latched on to what she had to say about her work. I’ll leave you with that today…

“Legal problems were regularly cited as one of the most burdening hurdles for the homeless when attempting to reintegrate into society, especially in securing a job. With Los Angeles named as the capital of homelessness in the nation, much interest and publicity has been given to the arena. Now, in recognition of progress, usually rehabilitation, and in meeting other eligibility requirements, a homeless person can have their unresolved tickets dismissed for quality of life offenses through the court, but they need the help of volunteers supplied by Public Counsel to do this. Being able to work with so many different people, organizations and institutions through Homeless Court has exposed me not only to the public interest arena, but also to county systems and even politics, helping shape my career aspirations. And at the same time, working with the homeless population in Los Angeles (reminds me of) why I went to law school… Public service has always been a priority and passion in my life. But now, with my goal of law school reached, and the opportunity Public Counsel has given me, I am at a level to help in a unique and very significant way.”

  1. jami3d says:

    Congratulations on your internship, I think Shane Claiborne would be proud.

  2. alsturgeon says:

    Thanks, Jamie. He would’ve had fun today when I was listening to a billionaire talk at the law school about how to make money – he arrived in his spotless black Bentley. 🙂 (Note to self: tomorrow’s blog topic.)

  3. J D says:

    Sounds awesome Al! It’s a very ‘al sturgeon’ thing to do.

  4. alsturgeon says:

    Thanks, John. I’m looking forward to it – ought to make for an interesting summer.

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