Making Our Way Back To Normal

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By Ginette Malpartida ’22

During the summer of 2020, many law students were unable to experience a traditional internship program. Unfortunately, some law students did not even get to gain experience at a legal internship site. The repercussions we all faced as we lived through such uncertain and odd times were, however, not discouraging. We all continued to work as hard as we could. Presently, many of us have the chance to intern in an actual office and talk to people face-to-face. Some of us have even met clients and had consults with them regarding their case. This is a way back to our regular daily lives. 

As a rising 3L at the University at Buffalo School of Law, this summer meant a lot to me regarding experiences I would gain out of my internship. My internship site, The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., allowed me to come into the office, as was true for all who had been vaccinated and taken a step forward in keeping everyone safe. In addition, we were given the opportunity to work from home to help us easily transition our way back to normal. Parking is still an undesirable task very early in the morning, so the fellowship I was awarded has helped in covering that cost and made parking so much easier. The fellowship grant itself allowed me to ease my mind regarding financials and has made me able to dedicate myself as if I were an actual employee of the Bureau.

This summer has been an amazing experience and I have the donors to thank for this opportunity. I am grateful to the donors of the 2021 UB Law Alumni Association Public Interest Fellowship. Your generous contributions have allowed me to: (1) focus primarily on my work, (2) feel less worried about expenses, and (3) build great relationships with my peers and legal professionals due to the amount of time spent with each one of them. Please know that your contribution does not go unnoticed, I appreciate every single one of you for making this summer experience a great one.

If you want hands-on experience and lots of feedback for work in the public interest field, The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., is the way to go. My experiences included e-filing documents to the court, conducting legal research, drafting every court document necessary in a divorce procedure … and the list goes on. Not only were the assignments a great learning experience, but the attorneys and interns made my experience so much better. This group of people are the best at what they do. Our conversations were never dull. Building relationships with the attorneys and interns was enjoyable. I could tell that the attorneys truly cared for the experiences that we gained throughout the summer. The attorneys made sure interns always had something to do while maintaining a manageable task load. The attorneys also offered us flexibility regarding our work hours, which I am truly grateful for because next summer will not be so fun with bar preparations and all. . . (words I never thought I would say so soon but here we are).

One lesson is to remember that it is okay to make mistakes. I sure made a few this summer. We all have at one point. One way to fix a certain type of mistake is by submitting an amended version of the summons with notice. This mistake sounds quite familiar. Hmm. . . I do not know. Regardless of whose mistake that was, there is always a way to fix things. 

Another piece of advice is to keep nearby a notepad and a pen. You never know when attorneys will begin explaining different parts of the procedure. It is always important, so write it down! 

Most importantly, do not take any criticisms personally. You are there to learn and improve your skills, so take critiques positively and continue to work hard. Your work is always seen, so do it proudly. 

In the fall, University at Buffalo School of Law is scheduled to be back to normal, so let us all enjoy the time that we have now at our internship sites. For those who will have an internship next summer—1Ls and 2Ls, I am talking to you—do not forget to take care of yourself physically and mentally. You will still have time to free your mind and do many things that you did not get to because of the pandemic (or just law school itself). Go to Taste of Buffalo, sing karaoke, go hiking, or anything else that helps you de-stress.

In closing, I want to thank Paul Curtin for getting me in the door, connecting me with great people, and providing me with great resources and a summer filled with great learning experiences. Thank you also to Nadine E. Patterson for being such an amazing attorney and human being. Without your lessons, I would still be lost in matrimonial law. Finally, thank you to my peers for always being there to help me with understanding different tasks or listen to my complaints about clients returning incomplete paperwork. 

Name: Ginette Malpartida ’22

Name of Fellowship: UB Law Alumni Association Public Interest Fellowship

Placement: Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc.

Location: Buffalo, NY

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “If you want hands-on experience and lots of feedback for work in the public interest field, The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., is the way to go. ”