By far one of the greatest ways USF Public Interest Law Foundation helps to make an impact in our community is by providing grants to USF Law students who choose to pursue unpaid summer legal work. This past summer, 25 remarkable students were selected to each receive grants of $4,000. We are proud to offer these grants through the generous donations we receive throughout the year as well as through several fundraising events sponsored by USF and PILF.
Our largest fundraising opportunity is the Annual PILF Gala and Auction. This year’s Gala and Auction takes place on November 4th. As the Auction draws nearer, we want to take a moment to introduce our most recent 2011 Summer Grantees in the Q&A’s below.
Stephanie Huang Talks About Her Summer Internship With The Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley
Stephanie Huang is from Los Angeles, California and graduated in 2008 from UC Berkeley. This past summer she interned at The Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit legal organization that provides direct representation to clients with limited means.
Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular?
I chose law school because I had worked in the Self Help Center in my senior year in college and really liked it. After trying a year in tax, which I hated, I decided I wanted to try to go to school again, and law school seemed like an interesting and challenging place to be. I’m really happy to be at USF, which is known for its public interest work and community service. I love that USF has students who are involved in the community, cooperative with and respectful of each other, and motivated to become excellent lawyers.
What kind of work did you do this summer, or what type of projects were you involved with?
The Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley serves over 2,000 clients each year utilizing its own staff of attorneys and over 400 pro bono lawyers. Most cases involve family law matters (divorce, child custody and support, domestic violence and paternity) and guardianship, but there was also work with landlord tenant law and in the Federal Legal Assistance Self Help Project. The Pro Bono Project also holds a debtor’s rights/bankruptcy clinic twice a month. The Pro Bono Project offers training courses for attorneys and also helps staff a “Lawyers in the Library” weekly clinic for clients. I assisted Pro Bono Project attorneys in family law and guardianship cases, interviewed clients, prepared papers, conducted research and appeared in court to present motions under the State Bar of California’s Practical Training of Law Student Program. The attorneys at the Pro Bono Project are collaborative group who are dedicated to their clients and public interest law.
What do you find most inspiring about the work you are doing or the organization you are working for?
I enjoyed my co-workers. They kept it light and laughed a lot, which is so necessary when you hear about some of the terrible situations our clients are in and what kind of lives they lead.
Are you interested in public interest legal work as a career? What sort of law would you like to practice?
Possibly – I feel called to work in public interest, but I want to keep my options open. It’s really hard to think that I may be graduating law school $150,000+ in debt and then (possibly) working at a job that makes no money…. Plus, I’m interested in many different areas of law so it’s hard to choose just one to focus on.