BBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship: End of Summer Reflections

Over this summer, the BBA was excited to continue our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, producing essential work experiences for outstanding law students through paid summer internships in public offices. This year, we partnered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, to provide enriching work opportunities for our participants.

Our second year of this program proved to be successful, with law students Rosa Kim (Boston College Law School), Farnaz Daneshvaran (New England Law), and Donald Slater (Suffolk University Law School) providing support for these offices, developing relationships with attorney mentors, and participating in BBA professional development programs. See what they had to say about their experiences below!

If your office is interested in supporting or participating in this program, please reach out to Solana Goss at sgoss@bostonbar.org.

End of Summer Reflection: Rosa Kim    

2L, Boston College Law School

Summer Fellow, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Through the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program, I had the honor of interning at the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office this summer. I was an intern for the Trial Division of the Government Bureau along with five other interns, and we were each assigned to some attorneys who gave us assignments throughout the summer.

This summer was certainly an interesting one—amid a global pandemic and one of the largest Civil Rights movements our country has ever seen, we have had to face the unique difficulties of remote working. Navigating these current unprecedented events has been challenging, but the Attorney General’s Office did an excellent job of making interns still feel like they were part of the office family. The Office hosted weekly intern events that were well-executed remotely, such as presentations on the different Bureaus of the Office and guest speakers who addressed issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Through my internship, I was able to develop my legal research and writing skills—a personal goal of mine this summer. I did a lot of research regarding Massachusetts Civil Procedure and writing memorandums, specifically for motions to amend a Complaint or assert a cross-claim. One memorable project I worked on allowed me to gain more insight to the defenses that are available for corrections officers. Although COVID-19 largely affected court operations, I learned a lot about the trial process through meetings with my supervisor and attorneys within the Trial Division. I was able to attend a remote hearing and listen in on how a judge might navigate court proceedings. 

I had fantastic mentors whom I had the pleasure of meeting this summer. My mentor through the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Program, Jameel Moore, spoke to me about her experiences in law school and upon graduation. She taught me that there is merit to exploring different career paths and being flexible with my interests. My mentor at the Attorney General’s Office, April English, inspired and motivated me to use my voice and never settle for less.

Perhaps the highlight of my summer was engaging in necessary conversations around race and allyship. The AGO’s Chief of Organization Development & Diversity—my mentor April English—hosted guest speaker events, office-wide Open & Honest Conversations, and webinars dedicated to getting the Office involved in furthering diversity and inclusion in our communities. I was impressed by the receptiveness shown by the Office, even featuring an article in its weekly newsletter that I wrote for my law school on being actively anti-racist. Diversity and Inclusion is a lifelong commitment—I will always promote and strive for diversity and inclusion in all spaces for all people in and beyond my legal career. I appreciated the commitment that the Office displayed in ensuring a space in which marginalized individuals felt heard, seen, and supported. Summer of 2020 is definitely one for the books, and I am grateful that I could spend this summer at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.  Thank you to the Boston Bar Association for making this summer experience possible.

End of Summer Reflection: Farnaz Daneshvaran  

2L, New England Law

Summer Fellow, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Through the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship, I was one of the General Counsel’s Office interns for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) sponsored by the Pierce Atwood Law firm. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 created, the MCAD provided me with a fulfilling remote 10-week internship.

This summer, I obtained firsthand experience learning about the MCAD’s investigative process. During intern training, we were taught about the intake process, drafting dispositions, and Massachusetts laws regarding public accommodation, workplace, and housing discrimination. While interning, the large portion of my work revolved around analyzing workplace discrimination complaints and then drafting a disposition. I completed a law-collection database project which required compiling a list of the laws that evoked the MCAD’s jurisdiction. I also had the opportunity to observe intake calls such as an investigator’s initial intake call with a complainant. Prior to and after the intake calls, the leading investigator would brief me on the conversation and what steps need to occur after the conversation.

During the weekly intern Zoom meetings, the interns were sometimes given the opportunity to expand their knowledge on professional development skills such as salary negotiation and resume writing. Also, during my internship, the MCAD held a virtual book club meeting to discuss “Stamped from the Beginning” for the purpose of discrimination education. The MCAD is special to me because not only is it a state agency working against discrimination but also the employees reflected today’s society-a wide range of race, age, and gender diversity. As an Iranian American woman, it is my life’s purpose to promote the benefit of racial and religious diversity in the legal field. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the increase in diversity in Boston’s legal community.

During my summer internship, I had the pleasure of speaking with Attorney Courtney Scrubbs who was my mentor this summer. Attorney Scrubbs is a Corporate Counsel and is also on the Advisory Board of the MCAD. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of keeping my reason for attending law school in the forefront of my mind at all times. We also discussed that the definition of success is being truly inspired by the work that I do. 

The biggest lesson that my summer internship with the MCAD taught me was the importance of investigating all minor details. Most importantly, my summer internship showed me that I can see myself doing anti-discrimination work in the future.

I would like to thank everyone at the MCAD, Pierce Atwood Firm, the Boston Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Foundation for granting me the opportunity to work in the anti-discrimination field this summer.

End of Summer Reflection: Donald Slater    

2L, Suffolk University Law School

Summer Fellow, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

This summer I spent eight weeks with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Judge Frank J. Bailey’s chambers. During this time, I participated in things such as compiling hearing notes, issue research, and discussions about ongoing case matters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my summer experience was entirely remote which enabled me to attend a variety of hearings, status conferences, and other events with different Judges of the court that I may not have been able to otherwise.

The summer of 2020 will be an unforgettable experience for many reasons other than the ongoing pandemic. Going into this summer I did not expect to have the level of responsibility or input on matters that I was afforded. Judge Bailey’s chamber operates as a very efficient team where everyone is just as important as the next person and this applied to the interns from the onset. I knew very little of Bankruptcy law initially but being tasked to review motions, conduct research, and having discussions with Judge Bailey after each set of hearings, I was able to learn about Bankruptcy in a very hands-on and unique way beyond just reading a textbook.

Aside from learning about the law itself, my summer in Judge Bailey’s chambers allowed me to gain invaluable insight and knowledge on practical etiquette for attorneys. Through attending hearings and status conferences, I was able to witness attorneys in action for the first time since being in law school. Judge Bailey and his chambers were constantly reviewing how attorneys performed and alerting the interns to when a very competent attorney would be present or even when a below average attorney would make an appearance. By the end of the summer I was able to discern a very experienced and technically sound attorney from a less prepared attorney which is an information advantage I will be able to use for the rest of my legal career.

One of the highlights of my experience with Judge Bailey was undoubtedly all the professional development tools him and his chambers were able to offer myself and my fellow interns. Judge Bailey, with the help of his colleagues from around the country, put together a series of seminars for law students to be able to see different areas of the legal realm and discuss different career paths with panels of professionals from all over the nation. This was an eye-opening experience as I was exposed to a few new career ideas that I either never considered or simply did not know about.

Lastly, through this BBA fellowship, I was assigned a mentor who is currently a practicing attorney. Admittedly I threw a lot of questions at him and ran ideas by him to the point where I thought I was annoying, but he happily answered every question I had. He even offered to put me in contact with other professionals that could provide me information on various careers that interested me. With the “Transactional vs. Litigation” debate that many law students deal with, I found this to be particularly helpful. Having different sets of eyes and mindsets willing to review resumes or discuss academic or professional decisions makes me more confident in myself as a first-generation law student.

All in all, even though nothing could ever truly replace the experience of being in-person during an internship and court sessions, this summer did not disappoint on a professional or academic level. I feel more confident and knowledgeable going into my second year of school now that I have a better understanding of how professional attorneys and even judges approach legal issues.

Funding for these three positions has been provided by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). A generous donation provided to the BBF provided a $5,000 stipend to the intern at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Funding for a second $5,000 stipend for the intern working in the judges’ chambers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has been provided by the BBF’s Charles P. Normandin Fund. Funding for the third position at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was made possible by the law firm Pierce Atwood.