This summer has been so busy – I really enjoyed my nine weeks at Innocence Project New Orleans. I have completed all of the learning objectives that I formulated at the beginning of the summer. I will miss working with such a great organization, the staff, and my fellow interns. I feel much more confident in my ability to contribute to issues about which I am passionate. My research and writing skills have improved, as well as my capacity to work full-time in an office environment. I am now comfortable with legal settings such as courtrooms, prisons, and legal offices. I was able to finish several major projects, giving me a sense of accomplishment at the end of my internship.
From this experience, I will be able to approach the rest of my time at Tulane with a more critical eye towards the criminal justice system and societal structures in general. I hope to find another legal internship before I graduate that can help me to build upon my experience at IPNO. This internship also gave me a clearer view of law school and my options following law school. I would also like to investigate restrictions on the enrollment of convicted felons in public housing and limitations on the voting rights of those who were incarcerated. I would also be interested in interning with some government entity to see that facet of public interest work.
For a student interested in interning at IPNO, I would recommend that they be open-minded about cases and experiences – it can be difficult to read about crimes or meet with people who have experienced horrible oppression. It is also important for interns to take initiative in their work. I think it would be helpful for anyone interning in this field to read current literature on relevant issues and be aware of news about the criminal justice system.
My ideas of social justice have been challenged – I realize now that public interest work is much more complicated than it initially appears. Good intentions can lead to negative outcomes, and our criminal justice system is not clear-cut. I have learned that to be an effective change agent I need to be confident in my abilities to act, but also able to integrate the views of others into my approaches.