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.
Interested In Juvenile Law? 3L Melanie Meneses Breaks Down The Basics Below
Melanie Meneses is from Rancho Palos Verdes. She attended the University of San Francisco as an undergraduate student. This past summer she worked at the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (CLC).
Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular?
I’ve always wanted to work with children. For a while I considered becoming a social worker, but then I noticed the limitations of that profession. Social workers are great advocates, but they can’t avoid the inevitable legal barrier. As a lawyer, it’s a different playing field. The law isn’t a barrier blocking us from our goals; it’s the tool we use to realize them.
What kind of work did you do this summer?
CLC represents the abused and neglected foster youth of Los Angeles country. As child’s counsel, it’s CLC’s goal to keep families together and ensure families receive the social services they need to maintain a healthy household. When parents can’t maintain a healthy and safe household, its CLC’s job to protect children from further abuse and neglect. We advocate taking them out of destructive homes and work to find permanent placement with relatives, legal guardians, and foster parents.
Everyday I worked directly with our clients to assess their emotional and physical needs. Through interviews and phone calls, I tried to assess the child’s current living situation and determine what social services were needed to maintain his/her safety. I considered factors like the severity of the abuse/neglect, the parent’s willingness to comply with court orders, and the child’s own wishes when making my recommendations to the court.
What do you find most interesting about the work you are doing or the organization you are working for?
The dynamic of the courtroom. I have heard it’s not like this in most courts, but in mine child’s counsel, parent’s counsel, and county counsel, although technically adverse parties, seem to really work together toward a common goal: protecting children.
Are you interested in public interest legal work as a career? What sort of law would you like to practice?
Definitely. Representing disadvantaged youth is really rewarding and I hope to work for an organization like CLC in the future.