With the support of individual donors and law firms Nutter and Pierce Atwood, the 2022 DEI Summer Fellowship program was extended to 10 local law students this summer. The program provided not just an invaluable professional experience, but a much-needed paycheck for this group of gifted, driven law students. In their own words below, they explain what the experience meant to them, and the lessons they will carry throughout their professional journeys.
Keanna “Nie” Joseph, Northeastern University School of Law
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Through the 2021 Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellowship, I had the opportunity to intern with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and the Contributory Retirement Appeals Board. I was one of two interns within my specific division, but one of over 40 interns in the overall agency working together under Attorney General Maura Healy.
As I went into my summer, I expected to have a very high-pace experience where I was thrown into the deep-end of the pool. I was pleasantly surprised to have been welcomed into the warm, collaborative atmosphere of the Attorney General’s Office. Furthermore, the mentorship that I received from my supervisor, regarding my substantive work, my general well-being, and overall career goals, was unmatched and I am excited to continue to communicate with her. During our first week at the office, I was given the opportunity to sit in on a Government Bureau briefing where I met Attorney General Maura Healy for the first time. It was an amazing experience to get to speak with her and observe how the office handled their cases.
The AGO hosted multiple events over the summer, both in person and virtual, and we were given ample opportunities to mingle with other attorneys from other parts of the office. The lunches I took part in with my fellow interns as well as with attorneys around the office were critical to enjoying my first summer in Boston. One of the friends I made that I sat next to all summer at the AGO I now have the pleasure of sitting next to every day in class. Another one of the amazing individuals I interned with this past summer was crucial in helping me with course selection and getting to know a Professor of interest to me. I believe that this program does an excellent job of creating lifelong connections that I can rely on in my career.
I believe that this program does an excellent job of creating lifelong connections that I can rely on in my career.
My first assignment was to work on a disability case where I was assigned to draft a memo, the official opinion, and given the opportunity to present my case in front of the Contributory Retirement Appeals Board. My supervisor and I worked closely together, and I learned many transferable skills as well as the complexities within retirement laws. The research and writing I was asked to do during my internship was both nuanced and dense, but it allowed me to speak competently about my then-interest in possibly doing litigation.
More importantly, the atmosphere of the office and the opportunities afforded to the Assistant Attorney Generals reaffirmed my desire to eventually spend part of my legal career in the government. The wonderful staff at the AGO also had programming for the interns where we could meet with different attorneys around the entire Agency and ask career or law school questions. I received great advice on how to actualize my career goals as well as advice regarding transitioning into my second year of law school.
Lastly, I was able to connect with Black female attorneys in the office who were able to give me advice and counsel me on the minute worries I had–such as how to wear my hair for legal interviews. By being in the presence of these attorneys gave me the confidence to be myself and be confident in myself.
I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity granted by the Boston Bar Association, I’m proud of my capabilities developed by Northeastern University School of Law, and I’m grateful for the amazing relationships that I’ve established, which I intend to carry on throughout my legal career in Boston.
Joshua Lopez, Suffolk University Law School
Committee for Public Counsel Services
This summer, I had the privilege of working in the Roxbury office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). Referred to as the Roxbury Defenders, this office is well known for its advocacy in the community and support of local efforts to educate the public. Among other things, many of the assignments I worked on involved researching substantive legal issues, drafting motions and memoranda, organizing discovery files, and participating in client meetings before, during, and after a trial.
The highlight of my summer, without a doubt, concerned a client that was mentally incompetent. He was being charged with a crime for which he was not suitable to stand trial, and I was tasked with drafting a motion to dismiss on the basis of his incompetence. After editing the draft, the supervising attorney filed the motion, and the case was later dismissed. Knowing that I played such a direct role in helping a client with their case was very rewarding, especially because the only experience I had drafting motions prior to this summer was in my legal writing class in law school.
One of the things that struck me the most about all of the attorneys I worked with is their zealous advocacy. Everyone I interacted with had a true passion to advocate for their clients and went to great lengths to do so. The flip side to this coin was the opportunity to witness firsthand that the criminal justice system unfairly targets underrepresented individuals. I was aware of how certain laws, policies, and procedures can have a disparate impact on certain demographics, but only in theory. Witnessing how this plays out in practice and the lives it affects was certainly an eye-opening experience.
This experience advanced my legal career in many ways. First, I had the privilege of working with and learning from some very talented attorneys. I especially appreciated learning from their varied approaches to legal writing, given that everyone had their own style. Secondly, I developed a greater understanding of the criminal justice system.
This experience advanced my legal career in many ways. First, I had the privilege of working with and learning from some very talented attorneys. I especially appreciated learning from their varied approaches to legal writing, given that everyone had their own style. Secondly, I developed a greater understanding of the criminal justice system. From when an individual is arrested and charged with a crime to when they appear at trial, I am more confident in my ability to understand the process and explain it to someone in layman’s terms. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, I was able to step outside of my comfort zone in many ways. From engaging with clients in meetings to taking on assignments that I had not previously done before, I can comfortably say that I was able to add to my skillset. I am very thankful for the opportunity I had with CPCS this summer.
Eliza Manriquez, New England Law | Boston
Department of Children and Families
This summer I had the privilege of interning for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) through the BBA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summer Fellowship. I worked in the Office of General Counsel where I was assigned multiple research projects by various lawyers.
The biggest project I was assigned was a 50-state survey of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), a body of law I was unfamiliar with before this summer. The ICPC governs the placement of children across state lines and the protections that children and families subject to ICPC studies are afforded. I learned quickly that the ambiguous language of the ICPC has created the need for courts in most states to decide whether the ICPC should apply to placement with out-of-state parents. Due to the differing interpretations of the plain text of the ICPC, this issue has become a hotly contested issue in family law across the nation.
In researching the ICPC and completing citation checks for appellate briefs filed by DCF, I was able to develop my legal writing and research skills. The most important writing skill I learned was how to both convey the gravity of an issue and still make an effective legal argument supported by plenty of case law. Achieving this balance in the context of a difficult case is not an easy feat, and by being exposed to plenty of writing that does just that I now feel more confident in my ability to successfully advocate for future clients.
One of the highlights of my summer was to see an oral argument in the Appeals Court regarding an evidentiary issue stemming from a 2019 trial between DCF and parents who’d lost custody of their children. I was impressed and fascinated by the arguments made by each of the lawyers and the questions asked by the panel of the three judges presiding over the oral argument. To watch was a test of my familiarity with the over ten years of facts from the case as well as an exercise of identifying and assessing the legal arguments made by each of the lawyers in real time.
I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work for an agency that truly strives to protect some of the most vulnerable among us. I hope to bring all that I learned this summer to my advocacy endeavors in the future.
This summer, the mission of DCF was always evident in the work that the Office of General Counsel prioritized, which is to advocate for what is in the best interest of the child. Before this fellowship I was unsure if family law was the area of law I most wanted to pursue, but now I am certain that it is. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work for an agency that truly strives to protect some of the most vulnerable among us. I hope to bring all that I learned this summer to my advocacy endeavors in the future.
Brooke Tideman, New England School of Law Boston
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I worked for the Office of General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). I had a predominantly remote summer due to the MassDEP being in the middle of an office change; however, I was able to regularly meet with different attorneys at the MassDEP to learn more about their practice. These attorneys provided me with guidance for working at the MassDEP and for my future career, wherever that may take me.
One of the most important things I learned this summer is that Massachusetts is at the forefront of environmental justice and equity in the country. The MassDEP strives to ensure that the impacts of climate change and environmental issues are not disproportionately affecting certain communities, and the MassDEP does an excellent job of this. I am especially proud to have created the National Environmental Justice Statutes and Regulations document this summer. This document provides information from all fifty states on their individual definitions of environmental justice as well as any statutes or regulations they have regarding the matter. While it was rewarding to see so many states with specific definitions of environmental justice and with specific statutes that go above and beyond the lenient definitions provided under Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994, it was equally informative to learn of states which have yet to further define or even address the issues of environmental justice.
Every piece of advice and every story I heard over the summer from the attorneys I worked with at the MassDEP made my fellowship feel more personal and allowed me to build strong, interpersonal relationships.
Throughout my remote fellowship, I truly appreciated the openness and willingness of the attorneys at the MassDEP to meet with me to answer any questions, to advise me on career opportunities, and making the time to debrief with me each week to ensure I was getting the most out of the fellowship and did not feel overwhelmed. Every piece of advice and every story I heard over the summer from the attorneys I worked with at the MassDEP made my fellowship feel more personal and allowed me to build strong, interpersonal relationships.
My fellowship with the MassDEP allowed me to work with some of the brightest people that I have ever met, including David Bragg, Shane Setalsingh, Suela John, Benjamin Meshoulam, and many others. Thank you all for going out of your way to make sure that I was meeting my goals throughout my fellowship as well as always being available to provide me with professional guidance. The commitment and passion each of you have for your work inspired me to stay true to my passions.
Nicholas Lopez, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Through the 2022 Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellowship, I had the honor to intern with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue in the Litigation Bureau. Working on a hybrid in-person schedule, I worked closely with the attorneys in the litigation bureau who specialize in a variety of different areas within tax law, bankruptcy, and litigation.
I had the privilege of choosing my assignments and the degree to which I was exposed to litigation. I naturally gravitated toward meals tax, tobacco enforcement, and bankruptcy matters. Though I had the option to attend hearings and draft motions to the appellate tax board, I chose to strengthen my legal research skills by producing memoranda to attorneys. This allowed me to learn more about tax and bankruptcy law with each assignment I completed. Perhaps the biggest benefit of this internship was receiving substantial feedback on my legal writing from the senior attorneys, giving me advice on style, formatting, and length.
I am incredibly grateful to both the Boston Bar Association and the Department of Revenue for providing an opportunity for aspiring lawyers to grow their network and professional skills.
Because of this meaningful feedback and constructive criticism, I was able to produce a strong writing sample, which was one of my biggest goals this summer. This writing sample was nine-page memoranda to my supervising attorney concerning a bankruptcy proceeding. My mission was to discern when the Department of Revenue could file a claim for unpaid taxes after the deadline to do so had passed in a bankruptcy proceeding. Having an interest in bankruptcy, I enjoyed describing the certain instances where the Department of Revenue could file a claim after the deadline. From the research this assignment required, I was able to learn some basic aspects of bankruptcy law and refine my interest therein.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to resolve newfound issues that the Department of Revenue was facing. For example, when the Department of Revenue calculates the amount of unpaid taxes that restaurants owe due to their earnings being underreported, the Department of Revenue must estimate the cash to credit card ratio in payment methods for that restaurant. The method used to estimate the cash to credit card ratio has been called into question upon drastic, nationwide changes in cash usage after the pandemic. In a nine-page memorandum to my supervising attorney, I provided macroeconomic research on a nationwide scale to continue the process of improving the method used to estimate the cash to credit card ratio.
I am incredibly grateful to both the Boston Bar Association and the Department of Revenue for providing an opportunity for aspiring lawyers to grow their network and professional skills.
Haley Albee, Boston College Law School
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I interned at the General Counsel’s Office for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). As my first hybrid legal internship it was surely to be an exciting summer working on civil rights issues. I found the work to be extremely rewarding and had the opportunity to regularly meet with the different attorneys at the MCAD to learn about their practice.
One of the most important things I learned this summer was about the MCAD’s role in drafting and releasing administrative guidelines. In the state of Massachusetts, many discrimination cases rely on the MCAD’s work on explaining Massachusetts discrimination law. These guidelines help practitioners better understand their cases, the public to become aware of their rights, and employers and business owners act lawfully. Supporting this process put into perspective a lot of the work that I did prior to and at the MCAD. Additionally, it made observing conciliations with Complainants and Respondents more meaningful, knowing that our work would soon change the process for both parties. Some of my other assignments consisted of writing legal memoranda on the legislative history of various discrimination laws, observing depositions, drafting open meeting law rules for the Commissioners to follow at meetings, and compiling a database of laws evoking the MCAD’s jurisdiction.
Throughout my hybrid internship, what I appreciated the most about my experience was the willingness of all MCAD’s attorneys in meeting with me to answer questions, inviting me to attend their upcoming conciliations and appeals, and making time to prepare me for each observational opportunity.
Throughout my hybrid internship, what I appreciated the most about my experience was the willingness of all MCAD’s attorneys in meeting with me to answer questions, inviting me to attend their upcoming conciliations and appeals, and making time to prepare me for each observational opportunity. I was even accompanied to the Massachusetts Archives after one attorney inspired me to explore a research project fully. This exemplified how excited and dedicated each attorney is and how much they believe in the work they do.
Working with General Counsel Deirdre Hosler in her new official role was wonderful. She met with me regularly to ensure that I was meeting my goals and fully supported in my research endeavors. Her commitment to eradicating discrimination in the state of Massachusetts inspired me to stay true to my passions and remember what led me to law school in the first place. I look forward to continuing my work with the MCAD during the school year, as I am planning on pursuing a legal externship in my final semester at Boston College Law School.
George Boateng, Boston University School of Law
Massachusetts Port Authority
My ten weeks as a Summer Student Counsel at Massport were an enriching experience. The collegial atmosphere the attorneys fostered enabled me to ask questions and participate in all the legal activities. The opportunity to be seen fully and mentored helped my confidence.
As the Summer Student Counsel, I researched and wrote memoranda on procedural and substantive due process, assessed legal challenges to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), and helped update Massport’s advertisement guidelines. Additionally, I reviewed contracts and attended meetings on Massport’s plans for the transactional attorneys. These meetings and calls allowed me to witness the research and communal precision in tackling a problem and reaching a solution. These experiences prepared me to be attentive to all stages of achieving a team’s plan. Moreover, I developed the technical legal writing and researching skills vital to my future career.
This fellowship has allowed me to gain a legal mentor who, as a fellow man of color, can provide me with valuable insights and wants to help me with my future endeavors.
To advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession requires a similar charge to expand the profession with varied insights and voices. This requires acknowledging the concerns that hinder Black and Brown Law students from accessing certain legal spaces. Moreover, providing the resources for them to thrive when put in these spaces. The opportunity provided by the DEI Summer Fellowship is pivotal because of the access and the mentors.
I appreciate the BBA and their DEI Summer Fellowship and hope many others receive the opportunity to intern at Massport. Law students will enjoy gaining personal insights into Massport’s extensive legal undertakings. The guidance from attorneys with years of experience in private and public entities is invaluable. I cherished my relationship with my supervisor Joe Kaigler, who, besides being honest and helpful, was direct while providing constructive criticism. He shared his legal journey, which mirrored my current experience navigating the legal arena.
To advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession requires a similar charge to expand the profession with varied insights and voices. This requires acknowledging the concerns that hinder Black and Brown law students from accessing certain legal spaces. Moreover, providing the resources for them to thrive when put in these spaces. The opportunity provided by the DEI Summer Fellowship is pivotal because of the access and the mentors. The most important thing I learned from my summer at Massport is that I can thrive in the legal arena. It is doubtless that I can be a successful attorney. The confidence I gained from this summer will affect my role as a student leader on campus. While I look forward to excelling in my classes and clinics, I also look forward to uplifting others in their academic and professional pursuits.
Arianna Fisher, New England Law Boston
Office of the Inspector General
I could not have asked for a better foray into the legal profession than spending the summer interning with the Office of the Inspector General. After establishing myself as a professional artist and manager in the non-profit sector, coming to the law as a second career has been a nerve-wracking experience as I navigate a new language and way of thinking. My initial apprehension was quickly put to rest by the overwhelming support and excitement exhibited not only by the legal division, but by the Office as a whole.
Working with the OIG was a welcome glimpse into the collaborative side of the legal profession. Not only was I able to work closely with attorneys in the legal division, but with other legal and non-legal professionals in various departments of the Office, who each treated me as a colleague with skills and knowledge to share while offering guidance and opportunities to learn where I lacked experience. It was obvious how much planning had gone into developing the internship program, as many of the areas of interest I had noted in the interview process had been incorporated into assignments throughout the summer. I had the chance to assist in answering time-sensitive legal questions while also working on a long-term policy project with the goal of developing more workable state legislation. I even had the opportunity to lead a meeting to discuss my research and policy findings with several senior attorneys, and to delegate and oversee non-legal research tasks to interns in other divisions of the Office as part of the project. These were pivotal moments as a legal newcomer, that truly made me say to myself, “I think I can do this!”
I even had the opportunity to lead a meeting to discuss my research and policy findings with several senior attorneys, and to delegate and oversee non-legal research tasks to interns in other divisions of the Office as part of the project. These were pivotal moments as a legal newcomer, that truly made me say to myself, ‘I think I can do this!’
I also learned new ways to streamline my research process, like when to stop spinning my wheels on a research question and ask an expert like a trial court librarian, who could have an official scan of a regulation and confirmation from a network of libraries across the state that the citation I needed was accurate, in under half an hour. Beyond professional development, one of the most inspiring moments of the summer came at the very end, as the Inspector General of the last 10 years closed his final term out with a reception featuring speeches from heads of other state agencies, the governor, and colleagues he had worked with since law school each of whom were eager to share stories of his dedication to public service and good governance. It was an exciting glimpse into the network of attorneys committed to public service, and to my own future in the city I now call home.
Darren Boykin, New England Law | Boston
United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts
Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellowship Program, I had the opportunity to spend ten weeks as a remote judicial intern to the Honorable Elizabeth D. Katz in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. My summer with Judge Katz and her two clerks provided first-hand exposure to courtroom proceedings, the ability to review and learn from parties’ motions, and the opportunity to research novel legal questions; some of which introduced areas of the law I look forward to tackling in my 2L year, such as business organizations and evidence.
Over the summer, I saw a range of bankruptcy cases spanning pro se chapter 7 debtors to multi-million dollar chapter 11 reorganizations. Aside from viewing proceedings, I spent much of my summer harnessing my research and writing skills through memoranda written for Judge Katz that, in some cases, provided an outside perspective on relevant caselaw and, in others, helped to fill gaps when Judge Katz took a matter under advisement. First and foremost though, my primary role this summer was to learn. I knew very little about bankruptcy coming into this program, and Judge Katz and her clerks were highly supportive and happy to take the time to answer questions and review new components as the summer progressed.
My summer with Judge Katz and her two clerks provided first-hand exposure to courtroom proceedings, the ability to review and learn from parties’ motions, and the opportunity to research novel legal questions; some of which introduced areas of the law I look forward to tackling in my 2L year, such as business organizations and evidence.
One of the most exciting topics I encountered this summer involved a chapter 13 debtor who sought to fund their repayment plan through wages earned as a manager at a cannabis dispensary. While legal under Massachusetts Law, marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law. Judge Katz is currently ruling on the United States Trustee’s motion to dismiss, who has argued that the debtor’s use of “illegal” wages to fund their repayment plan constitutes cause for dismissal. I had the opportunity to research how bankruptcy courts across the country have handled debtors involved with the cannabis industry helping Judge Katz decide on the motion. This case was fascinating and has gathered attention as it presents a novel legal question for bankruptcy courts in the First Circuit and highlights the tensions created by the legalization of marijuana at the state level. Another topic I handled involved researching a motion filed by a plaintiff in an Adversary Proceeding who was named a participant in a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme that was headquartered in Marlborough, Mass.
I am grateful for my experience this summer and the connections I made with Judge Katz and her team. It has offered a new and tangible lens to view my legal writing, piqued my interest in areas like commercial law, and prepared me to take on new roles looking to future Summer Associate positions and the challenges 2L will present!
Rev. William D. Merriweather III, New England Law | Boston
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Thanks to the Boston Bar Association (BBA) Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Fellowship, I worked this summer in the Juvenile Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. I, along with one fellow intern, oversaw the Chelsea District Juvenile Court caseload, meaning I stood for the Commonwealth in all of the juvenile criminal matters in Chelsea, MA. I also planned and negotiated informal diversion terms, shared discovery with defense counsels, researched and wrote memos and motion response drafts, and sat in on trials and all sorts of motion hearings. I was not only able to see the criminal justice system from a new perspective but this entire summer, I was able to learn and grow without formally arraigning anyone. This means that I did not give any kid a criminal record; in fact, I was able to dismiss far more cases than I expected while still expressing the seriousness of the alleged acts that brought the juvenile defendants into contact with the court.
Frankly, there aren’t enough lawyers who look like me. One thing I learned is that in the court of law, optics matter. Appearances are paramount in the theater of litigation. Every time I was in the courtroom, I saw the difference my presence made to those defendants especially the ones who looked at me. I saw how their loneliness shifted with a head nod or a grin. I made sure to always see them as fellow members of my community. Not just because that’s what I was taught in class or because we share similar traits, but because as a prosecutor we represent the community and every defendant is included in that representation. In the interest of justice, they matter too.
That personal and professional highlight meant even more to me each and every day as the number of juveniles who I had a hand in prosecuting increased. My caseload involved well over 200 children and two adults. Of all those people, only two were not persons of color. As the summer went on, I continued to see the importance of my existence. I realize the Chelsea caseload has a different demographic, but in all the different courtrooms across Boston I’ve been able to be in this summer, myself and the defendants were all too often the only visibly non-white people in the room. Occasionally, there was a court officer or the defendant brought family, but of the six judges I met only one was non-white and of the hundred-odd lawyers I came into contact with only seven of them were non-white: Black, Latin, Arab or Asian. I wasn’t planning to keep a tally, but the numbers were so low, it was shockingly easy. Frankly, there aren’t enough lawyers who look like me. One thing I learned is that in the court of law, optics matter. Appearances are paramount in the theater of litigation. Every time I was in the courtroom, I saw the difference my presence made to those defendants especially the ones who looked at me. I saw how their loneliness shifted with a head nod or a grin. I made sure to always see them as fellow members of my community. Not just because that’s what I was taught in class or because we share similar traits, but because as a prosecutor we represent the community and every defendant is included in that representation. In the interest of justice, they matter too.
This summer, I learned that I want to be a prosecutor. However, I also want to make money, live comfortably, and live in way that does not make my mother’s hard work go to waste. Most importantly, I learned that we need more lawyers like me in the criminal justice system. The vast majority of nonwhite people I met this summer were support staff. Their work was equally, if not more important, but their work is often behind the scenes. People-facing roles should be as diverse as the communities we serve. Lastly, there are so many steps before the law is executed and someone gains a criminal record, I just hope these black and brown kids can be seen as kids too. Thankfully, they are in the office I work, but some of these kids just need to be sent home to their parents too. Finally, I can’t afford to work for free, so thank you to everyone who gave and give because you allow me to live my ancestor’s wildest dreams.
If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Erica Southerland at firstname.lastname@example.org.