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June 27, 2019

Ryan Willett

Legal Services of North California
Sacramento, California

This summer I was fortunate enough to work with Legal Services of Northern California. The organization’s mission is to end systemic poverty and homelessness through principles of community lawyering. This strategy involves more than providing free legal services to those in need, but also includes combating poverty through political advocacy and challenging laws that hold back poor folks. It was truly a privilege to work with this group of inspired attorneys and advocates, and this experience would not have been possible without my PILP award.

I was able to provide three hundred and seventy-five hours of service to the group’s office in Auburn, CA. During my time there, I mostly interacted with our clients over the phone. The office would provide free legal advice for clients’ issues with housing, public benefits, healthcare, and debt. After discussing with the client the facts of their situation, I would confer with my supervising attorney, research the client’s legal issues, and provide the client with our office’s legal advice. This work allowed me to develop my skills interacting with clients, spotting legal issues, and conducting legal research.

For my main project this summer, I worked on the case of an eleven-year-old boy whose disability benefits were terminated. Our office had agreed to represent the child at his hearing to appeal the decision. I had the opportunity to write the brief for the hearing, and represent the client at the hearing under the supervision of one of the offices staff attorneys.

The office I worked at was thirty minutes up the road from where I grew up. Working for Legal Services of Northern California allowed me to hone my legal skills while providing service to folks in my own community. This was an incredibly meaningful experience for me, and I am so grateful to PILP for its support in this endeavor.