My summer internship at Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) was a fulsome experience. Under the supervision of staff lawyers, I completed legal research, advocacy letters, client interviews and intake. These assignments engaged many areas of legal practice. On one hand, I was able to apply my knowledge from 1L classes such as criminal law, constitutional law, and civil procedure. On the other hand, I was exposed to new areas like immigration law, administrative law, and family law. My supervising lawyer Allison Williams provided timely and valuable feedback which helped me improve my skills. Aside from regular assignments, I had opportunities to observe in an Appellate level trial, participate in strategy meetings with lawyers, and attend client meetings.
My time at JFCY taught me three key lessons. First, their focus on the child’s voice reinforced a lesson in being critical of the status quo. The law must evolve to effectively serve the public. I learned this lesson from cases where the current law was not serving the best interest of our clients. Lawyers must be ready to challenge the status quo by presenting well-articulated legal insights and fresh social perspectives. Second, the challenge of working in many areas of law helped me realize the skills I acquire in law school apply to a general practice. In the beginning of my internship, I was unsure of doing work in areas where I had no prior training. Through the course of my internship however, I learned that lawyering skills are transferrable in many areas of law. Specifically, my training gave me the capacity to learn unfamiliar areas, along with guidance from my supervising lawyer. Finally, even though children and youth may face serious legal problems like criminal charges and inadmissibility, they also suffer from other injustices. For instance, difficulties in finding rental housing, changing their names, and retrieving their belonging after leaving home. This is especially pressing for children and youth who experience intersectionality. I was motivated to serve my clients on all their issues because it would help to create a positive and long term impact for them.
Serena Yun is an incoming 2L student at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University.