How to Apply:
CDP is currently accepting applications for Spring and Summer interns and volunteers. If you are interested in joining the CDP team, please send a resume and cover letter to Maria Casas, via email at email@example.com
Shermila Kher, Harvard Law School
When Taramattie Doucette offered me a summer intern position at the Children’s Disability Project (CDP), I immediately accepted. I wanted a job that involved advocating for children, I enjoyed my interview for the position, and I’d heard only good things about GBLS. But as excited as I was, I tried not to let my expectations get too high.
After all, I was an awkward 23-year-old nobody stumbling out of 1L, going to work among seasoned attorneys at the largest provider of legal services in New England. I figured I should be prepared for the chance I might spend 98% of my time quietly fetching coffee and papers for the real lawyers, and 2% giving redundant input on a project that would be shamelessly exaggerated on my résumé later. I never imagined that within ten weeks I would have written three briefs, independently interviewed multiple clients, presented the opening statement at a hearing, and learned the names of most hospital records department heads in Eastern Massachusetts.
The CDP is a small group with an enormous caseload, and all employees – including interns – are used to their full potential to keep things running smoothly. In June Tara was set to interview the mother of “Liam,” a potential CDP client. Unfortunately, on the day Liam’s mother was free, Tara had to appear at a hearing. Since Jessica Podesva (a Fellow), had trained CDP interns on how to do an interview, and I was already planning to observe this one, Tara asked me to fill in. The interview went swimmingly, and I wrote a detailed memo for Tara explaining everything I knew about Liam.
Another great thing about CDP is that once you start working on a case, you generally get to keep it. This allows interns to more deeply invest themselves in their clients, and to have variety in their daily work. Plus, having one person take on most of the duties of managing a case is usually the most practical choice. At the end of the interview with Liam’s mother, I had her sign release forms so we could access Liam’s records. Once I had the release forms on hand, sending requests for records was a quick and easy task. Since I sent the requests, naturally it fell to me to follow up with the records departments. When the records finally arrived, I had to go through them to check the dates – page by page, since hospital records are not always in perfect chronological order – and if I was flipping through a file anyway, I might as well read it. And if I was taking the time to read a record, and look up all of the medical abbreviations contained therein, I might as well take notes…
But, to me, the most amazing thing about interning at CDP was the respect and trust everyone gave us. During one of Tara’s regular check-ins, she asked me to write a memo explaining the evidence in Liam’s case, and give my opinion on whether his claim had merit. I believed we could prove Liam’s impairments met Social Security’s definition of childhood disability. When Tara and Jane Smith (co-founder of CDP) read my merit assessment, they immediately agreed, and Tara told me to notify both Social Security and Liam’s mother that we had accepted the case. At this point, I was still the only one who had interacted with Liam’s mother, or directly reviewed the evidence. I was thrilled that Tara was willing to take on a case based on my disability law analysis; that a child was going to get legal representation because I believed in him.
I could say much, much more, but this is already shaping up to be one of the longer posts on CDP’s Blog. Working for the Children’s Disability Project was one of the most meaningful, educational, and affirming experiences of my life. If you want to use your skills to help children and their families, and to make friends and mentors who will surely last for years to come; apply to be an intern at the Children’s Disability Project.
Charlotte Anrig, Harvard University
My work at the Children’s Disability Project this summer far exceeded my expectations. As an undergraduate, I never imagined that I would be entrusted with important work, and yet Attorney Taramattie Doucette and fellow Jessica Podesva encouraged me to write briefs, conduct interviews, and gather school and medical records for over ten cases. (My work paid off: we won one of my cases, and we had a favorable hearing for another.) I gained hands-on experience with legal practice, and I became a better writer, researcher, and problem-solver. I also received extraordinary mentorship throughout the summer. Tara and Jessica pushed me, taught me, and inspired me, and they continually demonstrated the power of compassionate and thorough counsel.
Beyond the CDP office, my summer internship brought me into contact with an intricate social system. I learned about some of the life-saving possibilities and unacceptable limitations of government benefits programs, and I realized what an important role advocates play in the entire ecosystem. Through my work gathering school and medical records, I also learned more about how school and healthcare systems within Boston serve low-income families. My work with these records helped me understand the kinds of support that these families do (and do not) have access to, and it brought my attention to the ethical nuances of handling client records. In reading through records, I often gained an incredibly intimate view into someone else’s life, and I thought a lot about the balance between reading for useful evidence and reading with respect and empathy.
Undoubtedly, though, the best parts of my summer experience involved getting to know clients. I met some wonderful children and some truly amazing parents—mothers and fathers who worked tirelessly and with enormous love to help their families, even when faced with the harshest circumstances. Working for them was an honor and a privilege.
Edward Kim, New York University
Working at Greater Boston Legal Services for my first college internship was an incredible experience. I spent my time divided between the Children’s Disability Project (CDP) and the Family Law unit at GBLS. My summer work for CDP included pursuing records from treating sources and schools in order to gather as much information as possible about the child’s disability. I got to know how to advocate and navigate large hospitals and treating facilities in my pursuit of medical information. I drafted many letters and file memos concerning seeking evidence or about the case itself. On the cases assigned to me, CDP depended on my development of the evidentiary record because it was used for representation of individual clients at administrative hearings. I enjoyed being a part of the CDP team where staff willingly taught me and valued my input.
My tasks for Attorney Patricia Tellis-Warren in Family Law consisted of organizing, and preparing the evidentiary record for court. The community at GBLS is incredibly supportive; everybody offers their time and assistance to help the interns achieve the most accomplishments that they can during their time in the office. This internship has greatly deepened my understanding of the legal field, and has prepared me for any future legal pursuits, such as attending law school. The knowledge that the work done at Greater Boston Legal Services provides life-changing help for people who truly deserve it is an inspiration.