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Growing our Summer Program

Posted August 24, 2021
1:55 pm

Every summer, Legal Aid welcomes a cohort of students, including Summer Associates from law schools and interns from other academic programs. These positions are highly competitive; Legal Aid accepts outstanding, justice-driven students from schools around the country.

Students have traditionally relied on grants and scholarships for these summer positions and were not paid by Legal Aid, leading to inequity in internship compensation. To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at Legal Aid, and the pipeline of public interest lawyers, Legal Aid made the strategic decision to ensure that all summer staff members are compensated beginning 2021. All internships were held remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New philanthropic support helped us invest in this new initiative without detracting from Legal Aid’s signature programs and services. We are grateful to supporters from the Fred J. Ball Fund; Ohio Access to Justice Foundation; the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA); Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper, LLC; and the Cleveland Foundation’s Porter Fellows program for underwriting select summer staff positions.

Erykah Gandy, a student from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, was funded by the Fred J. Ball Fund. She interned previously with Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program and this summer worked in our Family Law Group where she enjoyed interacting with clients, hearing their stories, and learning about their legal issues. She aspires to be a juvenile court judge and is interested in working in that realm of legal aid or as a public defender as she works toward her goal.

Molly Schmidt, also a student from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, was funded by the law firm of Nicola, Gundbranson & Cooper. She recently completed her Summer Associate role with our Health and Opportunity Group. She’s been interested in Medical-Legal Partnerships since she volunteered at the Columbus Free Clinic, where she advocated to provide patients with free legal advice. Molly wants to continue working directly with communities and promoting health equity across race, gender, sex, and class.

Funded by Ohio Access to Justice Foundation (OAJF) Justice for All Summer Clerkship and the CMBA Minority Clerkship, Nasir Martin served as a Summer Associate with our Volunteer Lawyers Program. OAJF’s philanthropic efforts allowed Nasir to gain valuable skills to carry with him in his law career, including discussing sensitive topics with clients and communicating effectively, both in-person and virtually.

As Cleveland Foundation Porter Fellows, Erica Drufva and Sanjana Kulkarni, students at Wheaton College, spent the summer interning with Legal Aid’s Development and Communications Group. They worked on client stories, social media, videos, and data updates to enhance communications about the mission of Legal Aid and its impact. Because the Legal Aid summer internship experience was virtual this year, Sanjana was able to work from her home in India.


Learn more about our summer program at https://tinyurl. com/2021SummerStaff

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