A pen and pencil sit on top of a blue notebook with 2017 embossed on the front. A red apple is next to the notebook.

2017 Summer Internship Reflection – Part 3

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 learned about the law, gained experience on what it is like to work at a nonprofit, and 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. Here is what they have to say about their internship experience!

By Adriana Vega

My summer at Elder Law of Michigan was a great experience. I am very grateful that I had the chance to work with some amazing people. The employees at Elder Law of Michigan really care about the work they do for people throughout the entire state of Michigan. It was very inspiring to have the opportunity to work with people who have such passion for their work. Thank you to all the employees here at the Elder Law of Michigan for making my experience one that I will never forget.

As a summer externship after my first year of law school, working on the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors provided me with professional experience that I will use in my future career. Working on the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors helped me develop better communication skills and interviewing skills. It also helped me increase my legal knowledge in different areas of the law such as debt, estate planning, landlord/tenant, Medicaid, and property. By taking cases in areas of the law that I was interested in, I was able to reaffirm that I would like to practice family law in the future. My experience working on the Legal Hotline also helped me develop skills to identify legal issues and relevant facts when speaking with clients. It also helped me develop better research and writing skills. Lastly, my experience gave me the confidence I needed to be able to speak with others about their legal issues and give them advice that best suits their situation.

It was an honor to be able to serve clients at the Elder Law of Michigan and make a positive difference in their lives. Overall, it was a very beneficial experience and I would recommend it to others considering a legal internship or externship. It will provide you with practical legal experience that you will be able to take with you in your future legal career.

By Eric Villanueva

My goal for interning at Elder Law of Michigan was to improve my communication on the phone. Conversing with strangers especially on the phone has never been a talent and I always felt awkward talking on the phone. The work I’ve done at Elder of Michigan has changed that. I have learned to manage clients, which includes controlling the flow of the conversation, mediating the emotions in contentious issues and setting the tone of the dialogue. Along the way, I have learned a lot from a suite of legal topics such as Medicaid divestment and estate recovery, mortgages, and estate planning. This internship has been a valuable professional experience both for the practical interview skills that I have gained from working with clients, and for the knowledge of law from seasoned attorneys. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from experienced mentors. Working the Hotline can be difficult at times, but the people who work at Elder Law of Michigan are supportive and motivated in their mission. I recommend this clinic to law students who want to learn how to interview clients or have an interest in issues faced by seniors.

By Heath Lowery

My experience at Elder Law of Michigan this summer exceeded my expectations. The Legal Hotline gave me a wide range of experiences in a vast array of legal topics. The daily client interactions augmented and refined my interpersonal skills through verbal and written communication. Additionally, exposure to the nonprofit sector was a great insight to one of the diverse forms of legal services. The organization illuminated the strengths and obstacles of a legal service that serves communities in need, but is often overlooked in the legal profession.

Working under the masterful supervising attorneys, my effective interview skills have improved exponentially and I am now able to find value in every client interaction. I am able to explore and discover the underlying issue of each client’s interview. Advice from the supervising attorneys created a quantifiable improvement with my efficiency in completing client cases. This advice often converts abstract legal topics to concrete tools to assist clients in navigation of real world situations. The experience gained at Elder Law of Michigan has been invaluable in my understanding of the practical applications of the law.

I have had the most positive experience at Elder Law of Michigan, and I would recommend the internship to anyone looking to get a workable knowledge of the law with a diverse exposure to many topics. The position has not the menial tasks often associated with other internships, but a majority of the time is spent on fulfilling work with and for clients.
The staff is committed to the success of not only the organization as a whole, but also the success of each person within the organization. Elder Law of Michigan gives me hope and is an example of the good that the legal profession can do when it is accessible to communities. My work here will forever impact my approach in all future endeavors in the legal field.

By Jessica Rundle

During my time at Elder Law of Michigan, I have gained hands on experience that the typical law school classroom lacks. Instead of straightforward hypotheticals, we have had the privilege of working with real people with real problems that are anything but straightforward.

At the beginning of the summer, I had several goals of what I wanted to achieve here at Elder Law. The first was to obtain a better understanding of civil law, which was accomplished through working with Michigan law. I was lucky enough to be able to work with several areas of law, and gained knowledge in the areas of debt, estate planning, landlord tenant, property, and various other areas. I entered the summer thinking that I was interested in family law and estate planning, though through this experience I have realized that I am more interested in the area of estate planning, and less interested in family law. Working with so many areas of law has been beneficial because it gave me exposure to various areas, and I can now tailor what I study around my areas of interest.

One very important skill that I acquired is how to interact with clients. I am naturally a fairly reserved person, so at first speaking to clients was daunting. After a few weeks, however, my confidence with clients increased, and I am now able to confidently interact with clients. Certain skills cannot be taught without experience, and how to interact with clients is one such skill. The communication skills I have acquired during my internship are invaluable and will aid me during the rest of my career.

In addition, working with other interns as well as the attorneys at Elder Law of Michigan has been a positive experience. My fellow interns were a fun, intelligent group, and it was interesting to hear about the experiences of other law students. The attorneys at Elder Law were patient and supportive, and made sure that we were not just giving clients information, but that we understood the law and why the advice was given.

This position has helped me develop patience, and has been an excellent opportunity to work directly with clients. My experience at Elder Law is one that will stick with me into the future, and I am grateful for the opportunities that I was given this summer.

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