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October 09, 2019

Maggie Powers

East Bay Community Law Center
Berkley, California

This past summer I worked as a law clerk for East Bay Community Law Center’s (EBCLC) Health & Welfare Unit. As a law clerk, I assisted clients in appealing terminated, denied, and/or reduced public income benefits and/or healthcare benefits. As an authorized representative for clients, I contacted government agencies on their behalf, filed for hearings, conducted client interviews, drafted affidavits, summarized medical records, and wrote briefs for upcoming administrative hearings. Additionally, I staffed bimonthly Name & Gender Change Clinics, in which I assisted trans and gender nonconforming folks fill out and file court-ordered documents for name and/or gender marker changes. Working directly with clients was one of my favorite aspects of working at EBCLC.

One highlight from the summer was representing a client at an administrative law hearing. I assisted the client in navigating the appeals process from start to finish, which included pre-hearing negotiations with an appeals officer, filing for a hearing, conducting family interviews, and writing a brief. At the hearing, I facilitated direct and cross examination, as well as provided opening and closing statements.

One of the reasons I decided to attend law school was to ensure that all people, despite socioeconomic status, had access to competent and zealous attorneys. Hence, public interest law was a natural fit for me. Receiving a PILP stipend meant that I could pursue an unpaid internship at EBCLC. Since EBCLC provides free legal services to approximately 5,000 people a year, it is unable to provide funding for student interns. At EBCLC, I gained hands-on lawyering experience, extensive substantive law and skills training, and close, high-quality attorney mentorship. The PILP stipend meant that I could pursue public interest law experience at EBCLC, observe social justice lawyering in action, and amplify voices that are traditionally silenced by the legal system.