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Equal access to justice is a strong passion of mine. But this unrelenting issue hits closer to home when it is focused within the city of Philadelphia. With the help of Rutgers Law School’s Maida Public Interest Fellowship Program, I was able to spend my summer interning at Philadelphia VIP, an organization focused on ensuring low-income Philadelphians have access to legal representation. When I heard I was offered the internship, I was thrilled by the opportunity to work at an organization that provides legal assistance solely through pro bono lawyering.
I was drawn to VIP because of their unique model amongst other legal aid organizations in the area. VIP relies on Philadelphians caring for one another. Without attorneys volunteering their time to help those facing extreme poverty, our clients would be left stranded when facing a legal system that is oftentimes complex and daunting.
As an intern at VIP, I spend most of my time speaking with clients and reaching out to volunteer attorneys. I also had the opportunity to try my hand in legal drafting and conduct research to ensure we’re offering our clients services that are best practice. Throughout my weeks at VIP, my favorite part about the internship is getting to know my clients and helping them identify their legal issue.
Having the opportunity to speak with clients has been a refreshing break from spending the last year in a law school classroom.
Once a volunteer attorney agrees to take a case, they may draft a deed, litigate in landlord tenant court, advice a small business, or extend their knowledge to other potential legal issues that VIP clients face. While I am just working at VIP for the summer, I am constantly inspired by the vigor in which VIP volunteers advocate for their clients.
I look forward to the time when I will be on the receiving end of a phone call from VIP, asking me to represent a client. I highly recommend current law students that are interested in public interest apply for an internship at VIP because it will be time well spent!
Priya Kavuru is entering her second year of law school at Rutgers University. She graduated from La Salle University with a bachelors in finance and marketing and spent time working in corporate finance before she decided to pursue law school.