Eleven local law students have started their paid internships around Boston as part of the BBA’s DEI Summer Fellowship Program, which aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain meaningful experience in public interest law, as well as practical experience in developing legal research and writing skills and expanding professional networks.
Throughout the summer, we’ll be catching up with those Fellows to hear about their experiences, what they’ve learned, highlights from their fellowships, and the benefits of taking part in the DEI Fellowship program. In addition, we’ll hear from the fellows’ supervisors on the ways the program benefits employers as well as students.
Boston Bar Association: How have you found the Fellowship experience so far, now that you’re a few weeks into the program?
David Chairez, Boston University School of Law, Fellow at Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD): This is my fourth week now, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Not only have I learned a lot about the law, but I’ve been able to experience a lot of different kinds of work, which has helped me grow a lot and understand what it’s like to be in a position like this and help the Commission do its work. Being able to take on the role of a lawyer and offer people help has been a great experience so far.
Karl Lackner, Boston University School of Law, Fellow at Massachusetts Port Authority (MassPort): I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect before I came here, but it’s been really enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot about MassPort and its role as a unique entity within the scheme of the public and private sector. I’ve learned a lot about many different areas of the law, which is exactly what I was hoping to accomplish. I was eager to experience many kinds of practice, and I’ve definitely done that and learned a lot in the process.
BBA: What has been a particular highlight of your Fellowship thus far?
David: I just helped finish drafting the workplace harassment guidelines that the Commission puts out. It was great to see and showcase what the Commission’s policy is and how we will proceed forward with various cases. It was really interesting, and I learned a lot about the kinds of issues MCAD takes on. It was a great accomplishment to be able to work on that. Lately, we’ve been working on MCAD organizational guidelines and how to best improve MCAD.
Karl: Earlier this week, I attended a mediation over Zoom, which was a totally new experience for me and really cool. This morning I also got to see another airport, at Hanscom Field, which was a totally different environment and a cool thing to see. In addition, I’ve gotten to experience aspects of administrative law, real estate law, and labor and employment. I didn’t know—and still don’t know—what area of the law I want to focus on for my career, so it’s been especially helpful to experience so many different aspects of the legal field all in one place.
BBA: How has the program helped prepare you, moving forward? Would you recommend it to other students?
David: The guidance I’ve gotten from my supervisors has especially stood out. They know that I don’t know everything, and repeatedly assured me it was good to ask questions and learn. I know it’s okay that I don’t know everything, it’s okay if I mess up; they treat it all as a learning experience, and that’s taken a lot of the pressure off. I’m in a place to learn, and they’re here to guide me throughout the process, and it’s made for a positive experience thus far—one I’d absolutely recommend to my fellow law students.
Karl: I would definitely encourage any student to apply anywhere they are even remotely interested; apply broadly. MassPort really has been interesting for me to learn about how the agency functions, how it serves the public; you get a lot of different experiences here, and I would absolutely recommend it to other students considering a Fellowship.
BBA: As Supervisors, how has the program benefitted you and your agencies?
Deirdre Ann Hosler, General Counsel, MCAD: Our experience with the BBA fellows has been truly wonderful, really above and beyond. The BBA fellows, David especially, come here with so much enthusiasm and maturity and willingness to learn. It’s also great that I can get a different perspective from the younger generation and learn from them just as they learn from us. I would absolutely recommend, from the employer side, that anyone considering joining the program do so; it’s really mutually beneficial.
Joseph Kaigler, Associate Chief Legal Counsel/Litigation, MassPort: It’s been beneficial to each lawyer in the department in different ways. Whether it’s a quick turnaround on a research project, or looking at regulations, we can turn to Karl and give him something substantive to do, which helps the attorneys in their work and research. That is the nuts and bolts of what a legal department does, and he’s been great at doing the research and assisting with any issues that arise during the work week. It’s good for the attorneys here, it’s good for me, because not only do we show Karl what we do here, he also shares with us and gives us a new perspective. It’s also beneficial to these attorneys to get that practical mentoring experience.