Third-year student Amanda Powell wanted to know that she was making a real difference as a HOPE Fellow. Frustrated by the failure of representation to address underlying issues, Powell sought to do an internship at an agency where she could be a part of a team providing holistic and proactive services for clients. Powell found her home this summer at The Door, a non-profit legal and social services organization in New York City.
At The Door, a young adult can finish a cooking class and then stop by the legal department for a consultation. Located in a five-story building in New York City, The Door provides a broad range of services to youth between the ages of 12-24, including a music and design studio, a health center, counseling and crisis intervention, GED courses, career development, a culinary program, and legal services. With a team of social workers on staff, The Door provided the dream internship placement for Powell, who has a passion for working with children and youth.
Before law school, Powell worked as a victim advocate and a therapist for children with autism. She wanted to work at The Door because of her desire to work with children, and she wanted to explore different models for the delivery of legal and social services. Powell appreciated the organization’s comprehensive approach. “The Door has so many people dedicated to what they do that they can offer competent services to treat the whole person,” said Powell.
Powell had the opportunity to assist on a wide variety of cases. “A lot of young people came in asking questions about orders of protection, adoption subsidies, guardianship, and immigration assistance. Sometimes young people were looking to find out how they could get child support from their parents if they had been kicked out. I was also able to assist with housing issues, and I assisted a client with a defamation issue,” said Powell. She gained exposure to a range of experiences by attending hearings in Family Court, Housing Court, and Immigration Court throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
Powell also obtained experience interviewing clients as part of the intake process. “Doing intake interviews was my favorite part of the internship. I liked connecting directly with people,” said Powell. She also developed her legal research and writing skills and drafted legal memorandums for active court cases.
Even though her supervising attorney had worked at The Door for 20 years, new issues always arose, and Powell found herself with a new research assignment almost every day. “This opportunity broadened my understanding of what a legal services agency can be, and I hope to continue to work in this capacity and be in a position to provide representation and necessary services to clients in the future,” said Powell.
Powell has acquired extensive experience in public interest law during her time in law school. The summer after her 1L year, Powell served as a HOPE Summer Public Interest Fellow with Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., where she focused on housing and veterans’ issues. During her 2L year, she participated in the Children & Youth Law Clinic, STREET LAW, and the Litigation Skills Program. Powell also interned with the Florida Justice Institute, working on prisoners’ rights issues.
“All of my experiences in law school and the courses I have taken helped give me knowledge of what circumstances are out there. That made it easier to be prepared for the reality of the situations I faced this summer,” said Powell.