After I took the LSAT in October, I started work at the New Hampshire Disability Rights Center. I am having a blast. I am learning so much about disability rights, and I am having fun doing it.
In the two months I have been volunteering here, I have mostly been researching and writing. My first week, I researched and wrote a memo concerning problems and best practice policies surrounding mental health in higher education. I then got to watch the attorneys use my research to give testimony in front of the National Council on Disability. It was a crazy feeling. I also got to draft a Right to Know letter (the state equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request), requesting information for a possible class action suit. I have been observing the intake meetings, where the attorneys go over the cases that have come into the office each week and decide how to handle them. I was astounded by how many different types of cases there are. Finally, I learned how to do basic legal research (really, really basic). I read the Air Carrier Access Act, and then I wrote this brochureon the rights of individuals with service animals when traveling by air. I have also written an article for the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s newsletter about the rights of students with brain injuries to reasonable accommodations in higher education, and I helped verify information and make edits to a pamphlet on how to create an accessible campaign which will be mailed to all the presidential campaigns.
I have been working four days a week, and when I haven’t been working, I have finished all my law school applications and visited four law schools. And I have already been accepted to three schools!
I have also been writing a lot, and writing about writing on this blog. One thing I’ve discovered that makes me very happy is legal writing is not having an effect on my other writing. At least not yet. In the spring, I read all the archives of Query Sharkin preparation for writing a query letter for my novel (which I never actually did), and every time someone said they were an attorney, the Shark went “Oh no!” and then proceeded to explain how law school beats intuition out of your writing. In legal writing, everything is explained, and I mean everything, but in fiction, you want the reader to be able to skate smoothly from one idea to another. The idea that becoming an attorney could hurt my writing has been really disturbing to me, but so far it’s been more like two different modes of working. I can flip a switch and change from legal writing to fiction and then back again. At least, I can right now. I’m not doing a ton of legal writing at this internship, and when I really get into it in law school, things might change. So if I ever use the words “pursuant,” “furtherance,” or “hereinafter” in a story, you have permission to whack me upside the head.
I love being back on the student side of things. There is something both humbling and exhilarating in not knowing very much about what I’m doing: there is still much left to learn. I am learning it now, and I will continue to learn it over the next three and a half years.
The best thing about this internship, for me, is that it has really affirmed my plan to go to law school. My decision to go to law school was based on my experiences in Italy and my desire to make a difference for people with disabilities, but it was also driven by my feelings that nothing else I wanted to do (or thought I wanted to do) was working out. I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting into by applying to law school, and I was terrified that I would put all this work into it and then try it and hate it. Then I started this internship. I am having so much fun. I am fascinated by everything I’m learning. Now I have a better idea of the career I’m pursuing. I am confident it is the right one. And knowing I have made the right decision is the best feeling.