The BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Summer Fellowship Program, launched in the summer of 2019, provides law students with paid summer internship opportunities in public interest settings. The program aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain meaningful experience in public interest law. The program, which is funded from the Beacon Awards proceeds, donations from law firms, and the Boston Bar Foundation, aims to ensure that law students from all backgrounds can gain meaningful experience in public interest law.
Recently, the BBA caught up with Anna Cardoso, Associate, Arnold & Porter, who was one of two law students in our inaugural Summer Fellowship class (the program has since grown to 10 Fellowships for the summer of 2024), to discuss her experience that summer, how it prepared her for her professional career, and advice to current law students considering applying for the program:
BBA: Where did you complete your fellowship, and what was that experience like?
Anna: I completed my internship at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, under [current Governor] Maura Healey. While there, I was in the Medicaid Fraud Division, where I was able to learn about qui tam actions, Medicaid fraud and abuse actions, and how the government prosecutes providers.
During my time, I was able to network across the department and learn about how people began their careers and why they were interested in working at the AG’s office. My experience there taught me so much about both what I did and did not like to do, and helped shape my ideas around what I wanted my practice to look like.
BBA: How do you feel that experience prepared you for your career? Are there things you learned or picked up that you still find useful today?
Anna: It was incredibly helpful to be in an environment where I was dealing with multiple different stakeholders in the organization, as well as different [Assistant Attorneys General], which taught me that there are many different ways for supervisors to achieve their goals, and that most have very different preferences from one another. From a substance perspective, I am now a life sciences transactions lawyer, and it has been an asset to my teams that I can understand the basics of health law and how it may interact with our deals.
BBA: What advice or guidance would you offer to a student either considering applying for a DEI Summer Fellowship, or preparing to begin one?
Anna: I can offer a few different pieces of advice:
1. Ask all the questions and know that you are not being a burden! It is so critical to our understanding to ask questions; supervisors do not mind sitting down and teaching you about things you are curious about or discussing how your work product could be stronger and more effective. It shows that you want to learn and that you are interested in what you are working on together.
2. Go in with an open mind. I know it’s easy to feel like you know exactly what type of practice you want, but my practice as a lawyer is very different from what I imagined I would be doing when I started, and I couldn’t be happier with where I landed.
3. Sit down with folks and get to know their stories. I cannot tell you how small the legal community really is, and I have made so many natural connections by just having someone ask, “Do you know so and so?”
Networking doesn’t have to look the same for everyone, and taking time out of your day to get to know people and what their experience as a lawyer has been like is not only helpful for your career, but it also makes it much more rewarding to practice law. One of my favorite things to do now that I have been practicing for a few years is making organic introductions and doing my best to pay it forward. Often, the right connections can make all the difference, and if you have the power to help someone in your community make those connections, why wouldn’t you?
4. This last one isn’t advice, but if there was one thing I could ensure all applicants and underrepresented community members of our legal community knew, it is that not only do you absolutely deserve to be here in these spaces, but you deserve to love what you do, to feel appreciated and rewarded in your career, and to be confident that you are brilliant enough to take on whatever comes. You have made it this far due to your talent and hard work, and you have so much to contribute to the legal profession, no matter what your practice ends up looking like.
BBA: Do you believe it’s important for law students to get the kind of real-world experience you obtained through your fellowship? And do you believe it’s important to provide these types of opportunities to diverse law students, especially given today’s climate surrounding DEI efforts?
Anna: Absolutely, especially for first-generation law students that did not take a gap year (like me!). Every law student deserves to be paid for their internships and to be in a supportive environment where they can learn what it really feels like to practice law. I believe DEI efforts continue to be critical, and that diverse law students are deserving of any and every opportunity that we have the ability to provide for them. We should continue to uplift and support everyone in our legal community, and these fellowships are an important part of that.
BBA: Any final thoughts you’d like to say or share about your experience with the Fellowship Program?
Anna: It is an incredible honor to be part of the first Fellowship class, but it is an even greater honor to know I am not the last. I am so thrilled that the BBA has continued to provide these fellowships, and that our Boston community has continued to support them. I can’t wait to see what our next class of fellows accomplish!
Are you a law student interested in learning more about the DEI Summer Fellowship Program, or applying for an open position? You can find more information about the program, as well as applications to available Fellowships for the summer of 2024, here. Deadlines to apply for summer 2024 range from February 5-26, 2024.
Additional questions? Please contact Noah Williams at email@example.com.