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Equal Justice Foundation Report - Leigh Creighton
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Interning with Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. (ALAS) provided an enormous window of insight into the public interest sector. I specifically interned at Gwinnett Legal Aid, which is one of ALAS’ offices/locations. I interned under a supervising attorney (and UGA Law alum!) who primarily handles family law related cases and also oversees the Family Violence Project that Gwinnett Legal Aid runs.
As an intern, I was primarily exposed to family law and poverty law issues. The most enriching aspect of my experience was being exposed to how much I did not know. As the summer progressed, I was able to grasp a few basics of family law and appreciate what it takes to master any subject area of the law. I begin my third year with an even stronger desire to retain everything I am exposed to.
I also had opportunities to accompany the attorneys in the Gwinnett office to court. Sometimes court proceedings turned into conferences in the judge’s chambers or settlement agreements. No matter the proceeding, it was inspiring to see each attorney’s resolve to assist their client in obtaining their goals. During one of those occasions, the attorney (another UGA Law alum!) that I accompanied gestured at my Georgia Law binder and offered a piece of advice, “be like a bulldog, don’t back down” – I hope to accomplish the same “bulldog” demeanor that each ALAS attorney had with their own unique twist.
Not only did I have an opportunity to participate and witness what ALAS does to support and assist indigents in need, but I also witnessed what other organizations are doing in the community. For example, as an ALAS intern, I had an opportunity to attend a Board of Councilors meeting at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, I spent a Saturday helping to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. I also attended planning meetings for Partnership Against Domestic Violence’s Speak Out event. In each of these instances, I learned about the connectedness of community based organizations and the passion many individuals in the public sector all share.
This passion was apparent in ALAS’ appreciation of its interns, volunteers, staff, and attorneys. Volunteer attorneys and recent law graduates I met really enjoyed working with ALAS. Moreover, they appreciated the experience and exposure they gained.
Clients expressed their appreciation too – through flowers, bubbles, and words of thanks. I am thankful too of the additional exposure and insight into a career in public interest – a career I have been on the path to for a while now. Spending my last summer before I graduate with ALAS was worth it because it strengthened my goal to be a public servant. I am honored and humbled by the fellowship that Equal Justice Foundation awarded me this past summer. A summer I’ll appreciate years from now.