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Article - Internships allow law students to work and learn on the road

Internships allow law students to work and learn on the road

Internships allow law students to work and learn on the road

Posted: Fri, Jun 20, 2014

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Law student Daniel Gutman of Omaha sits at the desk once used by Thurgood Marshall, the founder of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Daniel is participating in a legal internship at LDF in New York made possible through a fellowship he received from the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund.

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If only this desk could talk.

Just consider the conversations it's heard, wonders Daniel Gutman, and the words that were pressed into it by its important owner.

The University of Nebraska law student from Omaha sits behind the very well-used desk on the first day of his internship in New York City.

The desk was used by Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice and the founder of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).

Daniel is participating in a legal internship at LDF made possible through a fellowship he received from the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund.

He wants to pursue a career as a public interest attorney, so the opportunity to take this internship is perfect, really.

"I am specifically interested in challenging policies and practices that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of our society," he says.

Daniel and other law students are finishing up summer internships for a variety of public interest and public service organizations, but they couldn't have done this alone.

Those who want experience in public interest law by accepting what are often unpaid or out-of-town internships are getting some needed support from Nebraska law firms.

Nearly $90,000 has been given to the University of Nebraska Foundation for a current fundraising initiative aimed at supporting the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund, which is used by the University of Nebraska College of Law to encourage students to pursue public service law internships.

With the education of future generations of lawyers in mind, the following organizations recently provided leadership gifts to the fellowship program:

  • Fraser Stryker, PC, LLO, of Omaha
  • Koley Jessen of Omaha
  • Lamson Dugan & Murray of Omaha
  • Rembolt Ludtke of Lincoln

"These law firms have shown tremendous leadership by providing funding so Nebraska law students may get experience serving people who otherwise do not have access to legal services and to work for the public interest," said College of Law Dean Susan Poser. "The fellowship awards give students the opportunity to implement their professional responsibility by helping underserved communities while still in law school."

Law students who received a fellowship award this year are now working in summer internships for a variety of public interest and public service organizations, including Legal Aid of Nebraska and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund of New York.

"This fellowship means a great deal to me personally, as it literally made my summer experience a reality," Gutman said. "Thankfully, through the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund and the generosity of its funders, I am clerking at one of the country's foremost civil rights organizations.

 "I can already tell my time here will provide me with the hands-on legal training and professional connections I need to be an effective and strategic public interest attorney."

Through recent gifts to the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund the college was able to double the amount of funding available to students over last year and substantially increase the number of students who received fellowships.

"All lawyers have a professional obligation to do pro bono work," Poser said. "These public interest law fellowships provide help to students for basic food and housing needs over the summer so they can do this kind of work and begin to understand and experience the vast amount of unmet legal need in this state and in the country."

Gifts to the University of Nebraska College of Law also provide support to the Campaign for Nebraska, which concludes Dec. 31, 2014, and seeks to increase support for students. If you would like to help students during the final months of the campaign, please consider giving online or contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216 or at campaignfornebraska.org/contact.

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