Kevin Fye | October 15, 2018
The Klau Center, in cooperation with Notre Dame Law School’s Career Development Office, recently hosted its 2018 Summer Fellows for a briefing on their experiences with public interest organizations. This year’s fellows were Tom Dwyer, Bill Green, and Jessica Skocik. The fellows shared thoughts about the varied benefits of their work as part of the Law School’s Public Interest Month.
Reflecting on his work with the Sargent Shriver Poverty Law Center in Chicago, Dwyer remarked upon the difference not only in the substance of the work that a public interest organization afforded him, but also in the mission that he was called upon to support. Contrasting litigation with legislative advocacy, Dwyer noted that “In law school, politics become a pejorative sometimes, or you’re thought of as less intelligent if you point out a problem with the legal rule….this summer when I saw an inequality, I could write a memo that we should petition the legislature to change this…”
Green’s summer with the Illinois’ Office of the State Appellate Defender confirmed the unique place that interns play in helping assure due process. “When you work for a public interest agency,” he said, “the most important thing - broad-based around anyplace you might work, whether it’s government or non-profit - is that they really need you.” To illustrate the case, he recalled a particularly striking example, as he helped reduce a sentence by discovering a mismatch in identities, a fact that escaped the public defender because of the extraordinary case load. “You’re in initial charging court and you’re seeing them roll through cases, roll through cases, roll through cases…these people don’t get due process, it’s just the nature of the beast.”
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