Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internships Kick Off with Annual Poverty Law Training

MLK Internship Orientation TrainingToday marks the beginning of the highly anticipated Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship program, which commenced with the annual poverty law training. This two-day orientation, held at the PLAN, Inc. office, aims to equip participants with a comprehensive understanding of various legal areas they will encounter during their summer experience. The training also provides practical insights into networking, professionalism, and building essential attorney skillsets.

The orientation serves as a crucial foundation for interns, who will be working with several legal aid organizations across Pennsylvania throughout the next ten weeks. By offering an overview of the unique challenges faced by low-income and marginalized communities, the interns are better prepared to make a significant impact through their service.

Among the attendees are the ten 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Interns, accompanied virtually by twelve IOLTA Fellows and one Equal Justice Works Fellow. Hailing from diverse backgrounds and law schools within Pennsylvania and nationwide, these dedicated law students bring with them unique perspectives and experiences, united by a deep commitment to social justice.

Arlene Marshall-Hockensmith, Esq., PLAN, Inc.'s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging coordinated the orientation. The training sessions are made possible with the support of partners within our Network and legal community at-large who provide valuable instruction to the students. We want to thank the following for their support this year:

  • Brandon Copeland, Esq. Staff Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services
  • Ryan Cummins, Esq., Managing Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services
  • Jamie Gullen, Esq., Managing Attorney of Employment, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Nick Matash, Esq., Managing Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services
  • Rochelle McCain, Esq. Director, Judicial Clerkships, Yale Law School
  • William McLaughlin, Paralegal, North Penn Legal Services
  • Jane Nylund, Esq., Staff Attorney, Philadelphia Legal Assistance 
  • Ria Pereira, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Pennsylvania Utility Law Project
  • Rachel Pinsker, Esq., Managing Attorney, Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
  • David Keller Trevaskis, Esq., Pro Bono Coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Association

This morning, PLAN, Inc. Executive Director Jayme Cassidy welcomed the interns and delivered a session on Pennsylvania's legal aid system. Throughout the orientation, the interns will attend sessions covering various substantive areas of law, such as Employment Law, Family Law, Landlord/Tenant Law, Public Benefits Law, and Utility and Consumer Law. Additionally, they will focus on practical skills crucial for lawyers, including professional responsibility and effective interviewing practices.

Following the orientation, the interns will begin their summer of service by joining their respective host programs. This year, the host organizations are Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Community Justice Project, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, MidPenn Legal Services, Neighborhood Legal Services, Pennsylvania Health Law Project, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, and Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid. IOLTA Fellows will be hosted by IOLTA funded civil legal aid programs throughout the state that are outside of our Network.

Under the guidance of mentors, the interns will engage in a wide range of activities, such as interacting with clients, conducting initial client interviews, attending client meetings, hearings, trials, and administrative proceedings. They will also be responsible for legal research, drafting legal documents and memoranda, factual investigation, attending staff meetings, and handling administrative duties as required.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internships provide law students with invaluable legal work experience, allowing them to gain firsthand knowledge of the unique challenges faced by low-income and marginalized communities in Pennsylvania. Through a curriculum that encourages self-reflection, personal growth, and the establishment of a professional network, the program prepares students to become compassionate advocates for justice.

Read more about our MLK, Jr. Summer Internship & Fellowship Program, or learn how you can support this work through a sponsorship or donation.

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