The 13 Boston Bar Foundation Students Share Their Summer Stories

In a record-setting year, the Boston Bar Foundation funded positions for 13 students to participate in the BBA Summer Jobs Program at government agencies, nonprofits, and legal services organizations throughout the city of Boston. These jobs are designed to impart a better understanding of the legal field, practical office experience, and invaluable broader life experience from a variety of skilled legal professionals. The BBF caught up with these 13 students to find out what their responsibilities are, what they are learning, and what they hope to take away from the experience.

Amadou Barry, Boston International High School
Volunteer Lawyers Project

“I am learning a lot researching former Board members and clients through databases and social media and putting them into Excel. Before, I only knew how to use the Internet in basic ways, and in school I didn’t learn Excel. I can see that it’s very different – there are a lot of things you can do in Microsoft but not in Google – and I think this will help me find another office job. The job helps with research by giving me the skills to find resources that I need. At the start, I was thinking about going to law school, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. This job is helping me to find that it’s really interesting to work in the law, and what they do is real and helpful.”

Miguel Rodriguez Figueroa, Madison Park High School
Volunteer Lawyers Project
“I have been going to court Tuesdays and Thursdays as an interpreter. On Tuesdays I go to the Probate & Family Court to interpret for clients who need the help, and also look up files and do other work as needed; on Thursdays I do the same thing at Housing Court and help with mediation as well. So far I’ve learned many things and have gotten office experience and court experience as an interpreter. I feel like it’s really going to help out in the rest of my life for future jobs. It will make it easier to obtain a job because I can show I have the experience. I want to do something with the law, like law enforcement – something to do with helping other people and keeping order.”

Benjamin Haideri, Boston Latin Academy
Dorchester Court, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

“I spend about half my day inside the actual courtroom helping wherever I’m needed – it’s a very busy place. I usually listen to whatever is going on, sometimes run to get files, and help with files for arraignments, search warrants, and making copies of 911 tapes. I’ve seen three full trials that lasted a few days; otherwise, I’ve seen bail hearings and civic disputes. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for a couple years, but haven’t had the chance to see them in action – so far, that and being in the actual courtroom are the best part. Very few things would beat that for me.”

Esther Huynh, Boston Latin School
Federal District Courts

“I started off small doing office work, but I got to handle more documents the longer I was there, like chief justice applications. I even scanned a document from Deval Patrick! I’ve gotten to learn a lot of sides of the legal profession from being in the court, visiting larger law firms like Sherin & Lodgen and Wilmer Hale, and meeting so many people – the Governor, the Mayor, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the federal public defender for the Marathon bomber, and most of the court judges. Also, I’ve been monitoring the overflow room for the Bulger trial to make sure no one eats, records, or breaks any other rules. It’s nice to be in a management position. I’m learning a lot – I came into this not knowing what I wanted to do, and I knew it was a prestigious program but wasn’t expecting too much. Being able to look into the law and judicial system like this is so much more than I ever expected; even if I don’t go into the law, as a citizen I find it really important to know about how our legal systems and the courts work. It’s interesting to learn these things because most of it affects public life without the public even knowing it. All the people I meet always say that everything is new and exciting, and even though they have such different life paths, they all managed to get into law school. It shows you can follow your dreams and get to where you eventually want to be.”

Eghosa Iyekekpolor, Brighton High School
Committee for Public Counsel Services – Palmer Roxbury

“I have been helping with office work like scanning papers and taking calls from outside. I didn’t know how to do this before, like taking the calls from people looking for an attorney. That has been my favorite part, and the experience is going to help my future.”

Destynie Jean-Baptiste, Urban Science Academy
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
“I work with all the attorneys who need help with office administration – it changes from day to day. I’ve learned to manage tasks at once, because that’s what I’ve been required to do. I think that doing these different things in the office will help with any job, so it will be useful for my future. The most enjoyable part has been meeting so many different people in the office.”

Odelyne Lamour, Boston Community Leadership Academy
Greater Boston Legal Services

“At GBLS, I’ve been doing office work, including scanning, doing mail mergers, and helping to prepare for the fall/winter internship. Before I started here, I couldn’t do anything in Excel, but I know how to do that and other office work now. The work is quiet and individualized, which is good for me.”

Beatriz Estafania Mejia, West Roxbury Academy
U.S. Bankruptcy Court

“Learning to use the case management system and financial system for the Court has helped me to learn job responsibility. I want to be a lawyer, but I also want to be working in business and finance, so this job is definitely going to help me in the future. I enjoy socializing with the people in the Court and being able to learn from them every day.”

 

Kevin Nash, John D. O’Bryant School
Committee for Public Counsel Services – Roxbury

“The job has changed my whole view about offices and how people act in them. It’s not as uptight as I thought – it’s very calm and cool, and you can have one-on-one conversations with the attorneys. When they have conferences it’s really welcoming and family-like: they have roundtable discussions that I can contribute to. I would say my interaction skills have improved.”

Audrey Ngankom, Boston International High School
Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts

“I didn’t even know how to file or use Excel in the beginning – they had to show me. Now I’ve learned how to do it and it’s building my skills. Sometimes they ask me to help with research, like researching student engagement programs at universities; also, they taught me how to answer the phones, take appointments, and help any callers, so now I can provide good customer service. Working at the front desk was really new to me since I’ve never had an office job before, and it’s a really great experience. Every day that I do these tasks, I feel that this is something I am able to do, and I feel really good about it. That’s something I’m going to take away with me and will help me at my work-study job in college. Actually, two weeks ago when I applied for this work-study job, they asked if I knew Excel; before my Summer Job I wouldn’t have known, but now I was able to say yes.”

Roberto Rodriguez, East Boston High School
Legal Advocacy and Resource Center

“Besides office work, I have been doing some Spanish translating and have helped with screening calls. I have learned a lot of legal terms and I actually get to talk to people most of the time, so I get a sense of what the lawyers are doing there. Depending on how this job goes, I would like to pursue a career in the law. The people at LARC are very inviting and very accepting – from the first day I felt like I was part of them”

Edalina Wang, Boston Latin School
Federal District Courts

“I have been working on the Ward Fellowship, which is a public service fellowship at Boston Latin School, with U.S. District Judge Wolf. There are 19 Ward Fellows who each work for a different public service fellowship, so I’ve been coordinating their schedules. Last summer I was a Ward Fellow, so I had these experiences; this year it’s different as the coordinator. We meet with different public officials throughout the summer, such as State Representative Marty Walsh and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. There is also a trip to D.C., so I’ve planned the trip, scheduled meetings, organized write-ups, and created a newsletter. Through being involved with this fellowship and the public officials, I’ve learned that anyone can make a difference. At all our different meetings, the officials talk about how they started and about giving back to the community. I used to think it was hard for one person to make an impact, but after meeting all these people it’s been really inspiring, and has inspired me to continue on.”

Sarah Kyler Williams, Charlestown High School
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

“My favorite part is attending the different organizations’ meetings and learning the different issues that the people in the city are dealing with. I work in every area, like homelessness and SNAP benefits, so I’ve learned different things like how a person gets benefits and what are the main laws surrounding it. I have become interested in that.”