Written by Tianna Bethune, Empire Justice Center 2014 Diversity Fellow
This summer, I had the opportunity to move back to my hometown of Rochester, New York and work with an extraordinary group of attorneys at Empire Justice Center. With great pleasure, I accepted the position as the first Diversity Fellow and I am very glad that I did! This summer has been full of fulfilling learning experiences. I was given the opportunity to work directly with clients, attend a mediation session, help prepare a case to be filed in federal court and more! I am especially appreciative of my supervisors Peter Dellinger, Reyna Ramolete and Bryan Hetherington. They afforded me the privilege to work in an environment free from micromanagement where I was able to put my research, writing and time management skills to the test.
I was introduced to three new areas of law: consumer law, real estate law and employment law. In consumer law, I worked on a case that required me to gain experience in contracts, specifically the nuances associated with exculpatory clauses. In the area of real estate, I assisted a client by researching transactions, fraud, misrepresentation and warranties. In the employment law context, I calculated damages, wrote a complaint and prepared the documents to file a Fair Labor Standards Act case in federal court. The diversity in my work load allowed me to narrow my focus on what I would like to do after graduation. This is invaluable in that every student fears making the mistake of accepting a position that they dread being in after law school.
In addition, I was given the opportunity to write a policy memorandum for Bryan Hetherington, Chief Counsel in the Rochester office. As a student, it was priceless to receive direct mentorship from a leader in the legal community. Mr. Hetherington actually took the time to read each of my drafts, while patiently guiding me through the writing process. This was a tremendous learning experience because my law school courses had not prepared me to simultaneously advocate to both members and non-members of the legal community.
I decided to apply for a position with Empire Justice Center because their commitment to serving the community and giving back is aligned with my interests. I would definitely recommend other law students who are interested in public interest law to apply for a position with this organization. The environment cultivated by the individuals in this office is very relaxed, welcoming and inspiring. I am truly grateful for the experience.