News Releases
July 26, 2023

Summer Fellows Gain Experience, Learn Skills and Broaden Perspectives Part 3


Eleven local law students are participating in the BBA’s DEI Summer Fellowship Program this summer, working in paid internships in public interest settings around the city.

This week we caught up with three Fellows and their supervisors to hear about their experiences, what they’ve learned, highlights from their fellowships, and the benefits of taking part in the DEI Fellowship program. They are:

Neelam Karamchandani
Boston University School of Law
Department of Children & Families

Chih-Han (Vivian) Yu
Boston College Law School
Office of the Inspector General

Annabella Nguyen
Suffolk University Law School
Dept. of Environmental Protection

Boston Bar Association: How have you found the Fellowship experience so far now that you’re a few months into the program?

Annabella: I knew to expect certain standards, such as meeting with my supervisor, talking to them about projects, working on memos and research, etc. But I didn’t expect there to be such a variety of work. Environmental law is so big, and I’ve had the chance to work on a lot so far, from legal research on legislative history of certain topics, tracking ongoing cases, to changes in wording on memos. I think I’ve gained a really well-rounded experience so far.

Vivian: I can offer a different perspective because this is my first working experience in the U.S. I also didn’t know what to expect because of that lack of work experience, especially in any kind of government work. I came in the first day and began getting assignments pretty much right away, and it’s all been very consistent with what’s happening out in the world. It’s been really fun, and a great learning experience.

BBA: What has been a particular highlight of your Fellowship thus far?

Annabella: I’m wrapping up research on a recent EPA decision, going into the semantics of why they did what they did and reading community opinions. Instead of just focusing on the legal aspect, it really highlights how environmental justice touches the whole community. That was a really cool and exciting experience.

Neelam: The Fair hearings have been the most exciting experience by far. They’re like these all-encompassing, sort of mini trials. It was definitely the most direct, hands-on experience so far, and allowed me to see first-hand the people that DCF helps on a daily basis.

BBA: How has the program helped prepare you as you look ahead to the beginning of your professional career?

Vivian: I’ve gotten to hone my research and writing skills, which will be useful no matter what kind of work I’m doing. Even if you don’t end up staying on the same path as your Fellowship, the experience will be useful; you learn how to be in an office, how to communicate with peers and supervisors. I think law is a people business, so the more comfortable you are working with those people, the more helpful it’ll be.

Neelam: This has been a lot of firsts for me, and I will never forget this opportunity. I’ve found it really impactful and a great first step in my legal journey, even if I ultimately end up somewhere else. The people I work with every day have been so kind, so helpful, and so understanding. I feel comfortable with where I am, even as someone without much experience. Even if I don’t go into government work, I will look back at this internship as the best experience I could have asked for.

BBA: As Supervisors, how has the program benefited you and your agencies?

Allison Colton, Attorney, MassDEP Office of the General Counsel: The BBA Fellowship program has really helped us, especially since we can’t always afford to pay interns on our own. It broadens the candidate pool and helps us recruit. Having a more diverse candidate pool is such a selling point, and such an important aspect of the program. We inherently benefit from having that more diverse pool. Having full-time interns, especially during the summer, is so valuable. Having extra hands in the office, for so much time, makes everything easier for everyone.

Monica Murphy, Deputy General Counsel, Department of Children and Families Massachusetts: We’re a very specialized area of law; anytime we have someone come in as an intern and express some interest in the work, it’s a great thing for us. We need lawyers to represent families and children, and Neelam has brought a great energy and willingness to learn, which helps the department in many different ways.

Susanne O’Neil, General Counsel, Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General: Those of us in government jobs really believe it to be interesting and valuable work, and this program gives us the opportunity to share that with these law students, get them excited, and showcase the breadth and depth of the work we do. I love it when people leave our office with knowledge about things like 30b and procurement law, because I see it as a way for us to spread good government practices out in the community. It’s a great program because we get to possibly develop future government lawyers.

Read Part 1 and Part 2