Summer Jobs Snapshot: Learning about Legal Services Through Fresh Eyes at VLP

Legal services is an incredibly rewarding area of law, but it can also be a tough area to work in – resources are sometimes scarce, and it can take an emotional toll. Even for the most seasoned attorney, it is an enormously challenging job.

Now imagine being a high school student dropped into the field to work at a legal services organization. For anybody who thinks that this would be too difficult for a teenager, Liraniz Colon and Mackaila Garcia are ready to prove you wrong.

“The girls have been invaluable,” said Volunteer Lawyers Project staff attorney Cindy Palmquist, who has worked closely with the two high school students at the organization since they started through the BBA Summer Jobs Program. “The fact that they are able to offer Spanish translation services is really beneficial to us.” VLP Chief Counsel Lynn Girton agreed: “The students have enabled us to help more clients through their translation projects. There aren’t always the resources to do this otherwise.”

Summer Jobs students Mackaila Garcia and Liraniz Colon with paralegal George-Marie Jasmin, Executive Director Sheila Hubbard, Chief Counsel Lynn Girton, and staff attorney Cindy Palmquist.



 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 


Liraniz, a student at John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science in Roxbury, has been assisting with the family law unit, while Mackaila, a student at Charlestown High School, works with the bankruptcy unit. They both go to court with VLP staff attorneys and help with documentation, eligibility screening, and case prep specific to each unit.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve been learning a lot and taking it all in for when I go to law school,” said Liraniz, who added that this experience is personal and emotional for her since she wants to work in legal services in the future. “It’s very helpful to my future to start learning this early.”

As for Mackaila, she has plans to be a nurse – but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t value this summer experience. “There are a lot of small things, like Microsoft Outlook, that I had never worked with before, and now I have these skills,” she explained. “The people here are very caring, and everyone has been welcoming and funny. I’m talking to a lot of people on a daily basis, when I used to be shy before.”





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By all accounts, the students have worked hard to support the mission of VLP. When asked why VLP participates in the BBA Summer Jobs Program, Sheila Hubbard, Executive Director of the organization, emphasized the benefit of having hard working students in the office and that every individual can make a difference. “These students offer the type of help we need as a nonprofit – the type of help we can’t always hire,” she said. “It also allows us to reach students early so that they know about legal services and how important it is as they consider a legal career.”

Liraniz and Mackaila have definitely made a difference at VLP; and it is certain that VLP has made a difference to them.

“I love this job,” Liraniz said with a smile. “I wish I could stay here all year.”

Liraniz and Mackaila’s summer internships at the Volunteer Lawyers Project are made possible by the Boston Bar Foundation, which is funding 14 jobs at government and legal services agencies this summer. Learn more about the BBF’s commitment to Boston youth here.