3L Gains Wealth of Experience Fighting Discrimination and Inequality @ERA Internship

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As a HOPE Fellow and Miami Scholar Carly Starkey continued her work advancing economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls in her 2L summer as a legal intern with Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, CA. During her 1L summer, Starkey worked as a legal intern with the ACLU of Florida on issues including criminal defense, education, and transgender rights. As a 2L, she participated in the Environmental Justice Clinic. Now a 3L, Starkey continues her work in the Environmental Justice Clinic as a fellow and acts as a research assistant for Professor Donna Coker, focusing on domestic violence and restorative justice. She is also a member of Bar & Gavel and a participant in Books & Buddies.

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Q: Why did you choose to work as a summer legal intern with Equal Rights Advocates?

CS: As a long-time feminist, I have followed Equal Rights Advocates’ work since high school. As a social worker focused on women’s rights, the organization’s attempts to change longstanding discrimination and inequality in schools and workplaces inspired me. One of the reasons I attended law school was to learn the legal strategies that advocate groups like ERA use to defeat social inequity. I value the systemic approach to problems that ERA invokes, from lawyers speaking to clients, students, and communities, to answering calls on an open helpline, to speaking at legislative hearings and creating policy language, to working with media to create innovative strategies for change, to representing clients in individual and class action lawsuits. They are lawyers, but they are also social workers, advocates, fundraisers, policy specialists, legal experts, and change-makers.  

Q: How has your understanding of the issues changed as a result of your internship?

CS: As a social worker, I interacted with individuals who had experienced harassment and discrimination and helped to train others on these issues, but to be a part of an organization involved in policymaking, national collaborations, and legal expertise on these issues was an entirely new experience. I have been able to see the macro-level changes I aspire to be a part of as a lawyer, such as policy changes affecting entire school districts, states, and even the country.

Q: How did your experience this summer impact your career goals?

CS: I went to law school knowing I want to work in public interest law pursuing human and civil rights at a legal nonprofit. What I did not know was how to get that job. Getting to interact with current and past fellows at ERA has inspired me to apply for post-graduate fellowships and has given me innumerable connections to the public interest legal world in nonprofits, law firms, and even the legislature.

Q: Tell us about some of the skills you developed this summer?

CS: The skills I have gained from this experience are countless. From answering Advice & Counseling Hotline calls regarding unequal pay, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment to sitting in on countless legislative hearings in Sacramento, I am sure the skills I have learned are still accruing. I was able to contribute to legal research and writing, cite check, and even write blog posts, but I learned the most from shadowing the energetic attorneys on staff at ERA.

Q: What experience at Miami Law best prepared you for your placement?

CS: As a clinical intern with the Environmental Justice Clinic, I gained relevant experience working one-on-one with plaintiffs, engaging in community organizing, and drafting legal documents that aided me this summer.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Miami Scholars program?

CS: Without the financial support of the Miami Scholars program, I would not be in law school at all. Miami Scholars has supported me to pursue my goals in public interest and advocacy work throughout my time in law school, as both a legal intern at the ACLU of Florida and a law clerk with ERA, allowing me to gain essential connections in the public interest legal world.

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After completing her undergraduate studies with a B.S.W. in Social Work from Florida State University in 2013, Starkey decided to continue her education and obtained a M.S.W from FSU in 2014. While in graduate school, she worked as an intern with FSU’s Institute for Family Violence Studies, working to support children and families and end family violence. She continued on full-time after graduation until she decided to pursue a law degree at Miami Law.

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