The Legal Aid Society welcomed over 170 interns, who will be working across all three practices as legal and investigative interns. The Welcome Reception also served as a kick-off for #DefenderSummer2019, a series of special programs to pay tribute to Freedom Summer, and encourage our staff and interns to be active on issues of voter suppression through art, music and film. Workshops will be led by staff members throughout the Summer. Event dates and locations will be sent out via email. Please see the announcement below with contact information.
The Welcome Program this year was designed to infuse social justice with music and joy. Interns were welcomed by Adriene Holder, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice who also served as Master of Ceremonies.
Dawne Mitchell, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice, paid tribute to the activists of Freedom Summer, a watershed moment in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
She was followed by a performance by The Peace Poets who began by honoring our collective ancestors. The Peace Poets combine current issues with music, poetry and rap. They were followed by Tina Luongo, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice, who discussed joy and self-care. As part of our commitment to self-care, Legal Aid will be offering students this summer a free subscription to Headspace, a meditation app already used by many of our staff.
Members of staff also spoke about their work, intersectionality, and the importance of working with the communities we serve. We were joined by members of both labor unions - the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA, UAW, Local 2325) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU-1199).
Shomari Ward and Helen Martinez, representatives of the Attorneys of Color Caucus spoke about the summer mentoring program for law students of color; Zamir Ben-Dan, a representative of the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, spoke about the important of being present for clients. Jasmina Chuck, a Paralegal in the LGBTQ Law and Policy Initiative, and a representative of the 1199 LGBTQ Caucus spoke about intersectionality and the issues clients face.
Germain Thompson and Victor Dempster, Community Organizers, represented the Community Justice Unit and talked about the importance of organizing and connecting with clients directly in the communities where they live. The event ended with a presentation by Allan Fox, Chief Human Resource Officer, and Scott Rosenberg, General Counsel, about workplace respect and policies.