Elder Law of Michigan is grateful to have had 13 law students volunteer their time this summer. Under the supervision of our Staff Attorneys they have learned about the law, gained experience on what it is like to work at a nonprofit, and have assisted seniors in need of legal assistance. As their internship comes to an end, each intern has written a brief reflection of their experience here at Elder Law of Michigan. Three internship ended today and here is what they have to say about their internship experience!
My Internship Reflection by Sina Norouzi
For me, working at Elder Law of Michigan (ELM) was a great experience not only for the legal experience that I obtained, but also for its environment and the people whom I met there. The friendly environment at Elder Law of Michigan gave me the opportunity to expand my social and professional network. At ELM, I also had the opportunity to work with different supervising attorneys. Each of the supervising attorneys has a different method in dealing with legal issues. Knowing different techniques to address legal issues gave me the chance to evaluate myself with each of them and figure out which technique works best for me.
I will definitely recommend this externship to other students. There are many things at ELM that can be helpful for a student’s future practice, but I have two main reasons for this recommendation. First, ELM is a perfect place to improve communication skills, which is a necessary skill for any lawyer. At ELM, interns face special situations and deal with emotional and nervous individuals. To be successful, interns need to learn how to be patient, clear, on point, and effective.
Second, at ELM, interns deal with multiple fields of law that individuals, especially seniors, often experience. Some of these fields are estate planning, family law, landlord/tenant, and Medicaid/Medicare. People may ask a lawyer about one of these areas even if it is not the lawyer’s practicing area. Having some practical knowledge in these fields can always be useful in your future legal practice. It goes without saying, but getting experience in multiple fields may also result in refining your knowledge of your favorite area of law. Bear in mind that at the beginning of the internship, you may worry about handling the issues without having knowledge in these areas. Do not worry at all! You will gain knowledge via training, and also, supervising attorneys are always there to help you.
I appreciate Elder Law of Michigan for this great experience and nice moments.
My Internship Reflection by Danielle Takacs
My summer internship at Elder Law of Michigan was an overall great experience. This internship helped me learn how to interact with clients, a skill that is not taught in law school. Working on the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors taught me to be patient, how to listen, and most importantly, taught me how to ask the right questions. At the beginning of my internship, one of the most overwhelming tasks was knowing what questions to ask and how to get the important facts from the client. It took practice and patience, but after working on the Hotline this summer I feel more confident in my ability to interview clients.
Over the summer, I gained exposure to issues related to estate planning, eviction, guardianship, Medicaid, as well as many other issues related to senior citizens. Taking calls on the Hotline introduced me to a wide variety of legal topics and allowed me to figure out which areas of law I found interesting and which areas I did not. I would definitely recommend this internship to students seeking experience in different types of law, or for those who are unsure of what type of law interests them.
In the end, it was a pleasure to work with the dedicated and passionate attorneys at Elder Law of Michigan. Each attorney was knowledgeable, kind, and willing to provide guidance and share their expertise with the interns. I also had the privilege to work with an amazing group of interns this summer. After working here, I understand now that there is a real need for legal services that specifically cater to low-income seniors. There was never a shortage of clients to serve as the Hotline was always busy. I said in my first blog post that I hoped to learn about different areas of the law and provide legal assistance to those who need it most, and that is what I did. I want to thank the amazing staff at Elder Law of Michigan for a wonderful internship experience and for giving me the opportunity to work here for the summer!
My Internship Reflection by Patrick J. Simons
The most interesting case that I received while at Elder Law of Michigan was about a client who believed that a neighbor was breaking into the client’s home. The client’s story was that local law enforcement had warned the client about making excessive calls to the police department and the likelihood of client going to jail if they made another call to the police department.
Despite the fact that the client never physically saw the neighbor in client’s home or nearby client’s property, client insisted that there were knocking sounds, bright lights, and shadows moving through the property at night, every night. During our conversation, the client kept telling me that other neighbors, priests, and family members, all of them agreed that the culprit was the client’s neighbors across the street. Local law enforcement seemed to disagree. The client became irate and incensed, demanding to know why client had to “have evidence of burglary before [I] could call the police for it.”
I was becoming frustrated with the call until my supervisor told me that he was fairly certain it was nothing and that I should draw the conversation in a different direction. I picked up the phone, dialed the client back, and took a deep breath. The first thing I did was soften my voice and asked if they had more family and if they could come and visit her more often. The client agreed this was a good idea, and we both calmed down. I proceeded to bring up the topic with the client again and I told the client that, “the police seem to think you’re calling them too much without sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.” Client replied, “You called them?!?!”
I laughed and replied “No, I have not” My supervisor told me to advise client to set up cameras around the property. To my surprise, the client indicated that cameras are setup and said, “I still haven’t seen anything, but I know it’s them.” I warned the client directly, “If you call the police again, you had better make sure you have some footage or pictures, or they WILL take you to jail.” I kept telling client that the best thing to do was have more family over more often and spend more time out of the house. I had no idea how to get over this impasse, until I realized that sometimes the best thing you can do, is take a deep breath and stay positive.