St. Olaf College’s Svoboda Summer Legal Scholars Program offers an opportunity for a select group of undergraduate students to perform intensive legal research and serve in a legal support role to social justice oriented clinics at the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, and William Mitchell College of Law.
Emelia Carroll ’13
During my summer at William Mitchell College of law, I worked with the Community Development, Reentry and Child Protection legal clinics. These clinics provide law students with hands-on, practical experience in the law world, while providing legal service to individuals and groups without the financial means to independently hire an attorney. For the Community Development clinic, I researched Fair Housing issues, attended community meetings on fair housing development, and wrote the non-legal argument for a case. For the Reentry and Child Protection clinics, I interviewed students, clients and board members to compose and format summer newsletters, and researched felon disenfranchisement. I also frequently had the opportunity to observe in court for child protection cases. Further, I had the opportunity to conduct intake and logistical support during the annual Homeless Connect event in St. Paul, where a myriad of free services come together for a day under one roof.
University of Minnesota Law
Stephanie Jones ’13
Majors: Philosophy, Environmental Studies and Statistics Concentration
Through the St. Olaf Summer Legal Scholars Program, I had the great opportunity to spend 6 weeks working at the University of Minnesota Law Clinics working on real, active civil practice cases for underprivileged clients. I supported the work of four student attorneys and three supervising attorneys through a variety of interesting tasks, including finding information in case documents, communicating with clients, and researching the legal precedent of issues related to a case. The attorneys also gave me great insights into actual court proceedings by welcoming me to observe all hearings for their cases. It was an honor to assist such bright, dedicated, and friendly attorneys, and my experience working with them gave me an incredible amount of insight into the legal field in a very short time.
Ryan Powley ’13
Majors: Psychology and English
As a Legal Scholar, I interned at the Civil Practice and Child Advocacy Law Clinics at the University of Minnesota Law School. In this capacity, I indirectly served children, young mothers, adolescents, orphans, single parents, and the elderly throughout Hennepin County by directly providing legal assistance to the student attorneys assigned to handle those cases. I contributed to cases involving juvenile delinquency or substance abuse, habitual runaways, divorce or dissolution of marriage, unemployment benefits, spousal maintenance, out-of-home placement, child support, child custody, and parental rights. Many clients taken on by the Clinics are underprivileged minorities or low-income parties at or below the poverty line who are unable to afford representation in their legal matters. The pedagogical nature of the Clinics makes it possible for these people to obtain free legal counsel and representation from law students. In my support role, I compiled and organized case files, conducted intensive legal research, helped devise legal claims and strategies, drafted legal documents, met with clients, and attended courtroom proceedings. Other highlights included going out to lunch occasionally, attending a Twins game with my colleagues, and touring the Oak Park Heights maximum security penitentiary as well as other incarceration and state correctional facilities. Overall, my experience as a Legal Scholar working at the social justice-oriented Clinics was very rewarding and extremely informative.
University of St. Thomas School of Law
Angela Nitschke ‘13
Major: Political Science
Program: Immigration Law Practice Group, Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services,
I had the privilege of joining the passionate and caring legal team at St. Thomas School of Law. Over the course of my internship, I gained invaluable experience in the realm of legal studies. I used the LexisNexis & Westlaw databases, organized case files, filed applications and appeals with the courts, learned how to understand legal briefs, and read past court decisions. I helped build persuasive legal arguments for immigration clients by contacting experts, understanding psych evaluations, researching country conditions, and working with interpreters. This unique hands-on undergraduate legal experience left me with a sense of accomplishment, professionalism, and desire for justice. After this summer, I am even more confident in my decision to attend law school.
Faculty Advisor: Doug Casson, PhD
Academic Department: Associate Professor of Political Science, St. Olaf & Pre-Law Advisor
“This fellowship is a wonderfully practical supplement to our more theoretically oriented curriculum. A liberal arts education at St. Olaf teaches students to think. The legal fellows program offers students a particularly rich context in which they can apply theses skills and challenge themselves while testing the waters of a legal career.”