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June 01, 2008

Becky Straus

East Bay Community Law Center, Berkeley, CA

The East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) was founded on and continues to function under the model of a dual service-learning organization. At no cost, it serves low-income clients in the areas of economic justice, criminal records assistance, housing and eviction defense, income and employment support, and health. Simultaneously, it is committed to providing a clinical legal education to its interns – year-round. I was selected as summer intern in the Housing and Eviction Defense practice group, and chose to accept the offer with this organization in part because of its focus on serving both its clients and its students. In many ways, EBCLC provides a service to its students so that its students can best serve the community.

Under the supervision of incredibly talented and inspiring attorneys, I contributed to all aspects of the Housing group’s work. I prepared filings for low-income tenants facing eviction at the Alameda County Courthouse Self-Help Center, counseled clients and wrote advocacy letters on their behalf at periodic drop-in tenants’ rights workshops located in various community centers around the area, wrote pleadings and motions for ongoing litigation matters, and shared client-intake responsibilities in the office. As a Certified Law Student, I even had the opportunity to argue a motion before a judge in court, and to take a deposition.

The most valuable aspect of my internship, and the most rewarding, was the opportunity to provide access to legal services to tenants who had no other resource – the difference between counsel and not often being that between housing and homelessness. It would not have been possible for me to do this work, at an organization that relies solely on interns that can secure their own funding, without the help of PILP. My PILP stipend allowed me to learn substantive areas of housing law and, more importantly, to solidify my professional interest and drive toward low-income legal services, while supporting myself in lovely San Francisco.