Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Britney Wilson L’15 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers. Wilson, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is working at the Southern Center for Human Rights this summer. She plans to be a civil rights attorney.
This summer I am working at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. The Southern Center does capital defense work in Georgia and Alabama, representing clients at trial, on appeal, and in post-conviction proceedings. The Southern Center also does impact litigation work concerning criminal justice issues, such as prison conditions. I have been traveling around Georgia and Alabama doing legal research and assisting attorneys as they prepare for litigation on behalf of capital defendants.
Last summer I worked at the Legal Aid Society of New York Prisoners’ Rights Project. The skills I learned there have definitely complemented the work that I’m doing this summer, but I’m also learning many new things as I navigate in an entirely different region of the country. Last summer’s experience also confirmed my interest in civil rights work, particularly civil rights work having to do with the criminal justice system. So, I decided to devote my 2L year to taking classes and developing skills that would help me to achieve that goal.
The Penn Law classes that helped me prepare most for the work that I’m doing this summer were Constitutional Criminal Procedure with Professor Rudovsky, Appellate Advocacy with Professor Levick, and the Civil Practice Clinic with Professor Rulli. I can already see how much the Clinic taught me how to think through and address real-world legal problems. I also participated in an external moot court competition for academic credit (the Gibbons National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition at Seton Hall Law School) and I was able to travel and compete thanks to funding from Penn.
I definitely see myself using this experience when I come back to Penn because I plan to continue to build my research, writing, and oral advocacy skills, and participating in civil rights and criminal justice-related pro bono work as the Innocence Project Coordinator for PEAP (Prisoners’ Education and Advocacy Project) this year, and through clinics and externships. I want to be a civil rights attorney, so all of this work is essential to my future.
Importantly, I received funding for my summer work through the Equal Justice Foundation and Penn’s Wolfman Fellowship.