BBA Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

This summer, the BBA was proud to launch a new Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, aimed at providing outstanding law students with critical work experience through paid summer internships in public interest offices. In the pilot year, we were proud to partner with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, to provide this opportunity. Funding for these positions was provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF), with the position at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office funded by a generous private donation, and the position at the Bankruptcy Court funded by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund.

The Fellowship saw a successful first year, with law students Anna Cardoso (Boston University School of Law) and Emaan Syed (Suffolk University Law School) contributing to the work of these offices, participating in BBA professional development programs, and meeting with attorney mentors.  Read on to learn about their experiences this summer in their own words!

If your office is in interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Hannah Poor at [email protected].

End of Summer Reflection: Anna Cardoso
Rising 2L, Boston University School of Law
Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning in the Medicaid Fraud Division at Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office. My division focuses exclusively on holding providers accountable for defrauding our Medicaid system. I completed many research assignments and attended hearings, depositions, and relator interviews focusing on evidentiary, constitutional, and broader health law-related issues. Unique to my division, I was asked to pick a topic to present to my bureau, which was certainly nerve-wracking, but ended up being one of my favorite parts of the internship. I consider my presentation to be a highlight of my summer and am particularly proud of how many of the attorneys in my bureau emphasized that it was an extremely difficult topic and that I had done an excellent job. The learning curve here has been steep and challenging in the most rewarding way possible. It is difficult to put into words how much I have learned. There has not been a dull moment at this office or a day where I have not learned something new. I knew I wanted to practice in the health care space, making access to care more affordable, and my summer has affirmed my convictions. The office also had programming for interns almost every day, and I particularly enjoyed our visit to the Supreme Judicial Court.

This summer I attended the BBA’s public interest summer kickoff breakfast, a program on what it is like to practice in life sciences, and “Let’s Get Real,” a program about what it is like to be a diverse attorney in Boston. These events have helped to set realistic expectations and get to know attorneys and law students in Boston.

I cannot say enough good things about either of my mentors. I was lucky enough to have one of them, Amanda Morejon, on the same floor in a neighboring division and she has been a constant source of support and guidance this summer. Amanda has encouraged me all summer to exceed my own expectations and to trust in my intelligence and capabilities as a future attorney. My other mentor, Gina Kwon, is one of the prosecutors working on the largest opioid trafficking takedown in our office and has taught me that there are no dumb questions, and all questions are worth asking. Both my mentors are women lawyers whom I look up to and will maintain a relationship with even after this summer.

Diversity and inclusion will always be a goal that I am looking for ways to advance. Being a Latina in the legal field means that when I become an attorney, my presence as a female Latinx attorney will account for less than two percent of attorneys in the United States, according to the Hispanic National Bar Association, a number that can be disheartening at best, and frustratingly lonely at worst. Having positions like this fellowship that I was fortunate enough to receive means that Boston cares and wants to change this statistic. The sense of community and the network that I have built in this office makes me confident that Boston is changing into a better, more welcoming, and increasingly diverse place. I know that I will soon be stepping into the role of mentoring first-year law students and that doing my best work here has given me the knowledge and the credibility to help other students get where I am, and to continue to pull them up with me wherever I go next. I would like to thank everyone at the AGO, the Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for making this summer possible—it has been amazing.

End of Summer Reflection: Emaan Syed
Rising 3L, Suffolk University Law School
Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts

Through the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I interned for Judge Melvin S. Hoffman at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston this summer. I was a judicial intern and conducted legal research and analyzed diverse issues arising under the bankruptcy code. I also drafted memoranda and observed Bankruptcy Court hearings, trials, and proceedings that occurred multiple times a week.

I was able to learn a lot about bankruptcy law, and from my courses, was able to see much of what I learned in class, in real time in court hearings. I learned that bankruptcy law ties many other aspects of law together, such as family law, real estate law, IP law, and every other possible field of law that exists. Each case heard is unique; I especially enjoyed seeing and conducting research for cases on matters that do not have much ruling or background, that require further research and understanding of bankruptcy law.

I met with my BBA mentor and discussed succeeding in my internships and my law career. I was able to learn from my mentor on how to search and narrow in on what field of law I want to ultimately work in. It was valuable to me to have a helpful mentor giving me the tools to succeed in my career and understanding my challenges as a student navigating through the legal field.

Throughout my internship, I was able to ask the judge and his clerks about questions I had about bankruptcy law or about the hearings I attended. I appreciated the insight of the judge and the clerks on all matters of bankruptcy law and litigating as an attorney.

During my internship, I attended brown bag luncheon events at the Moakley Courthouse, where all the summer interns for the federal courts were invited to discussions on several topics. It was great to mingle with other federal court interns and learn of their experiences as well.

I attended Boston Bar Association events concerning bankruptcy law due to my interest in the subject. My first event was the 29th annual Bench Meets Bar Conference. The event included many of the Bankruptcy Court judges and members of the bankruptcy bar to learn about the current and recent cases the judges were working on and analyze key issues in bankruptcy law. I got to see many attorneys that practiced bankruptcy law, along with many attorneys of the Bankruptcy Court. The event allowed me to hear the other judges’ observations on key issues in bankruptcy law.

In addition, I attended another BBA event at the Bankruptcy Court where I got to meet and talk to bankruptcy attorneys about their careers. A common experience that most bankruptcy attorneys shared was how they came to ultimately work in bankruptcy law. Most of the attorneys did not start their careers planning to go into bankruptcy law, but on their journey, found bankruptcy law and developed a passion for the subject matter.

Through my summer internship at the Bankruptcy Court, I learned there is an underlying human aspect to the law. I gained an appreciation for litigation, learning the qualities of a successful litigator and the etiquette of the court, in a fulfilling internship at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.