Pathways to the Profession: Jarron McAllister L’20
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 United States and abroad. This post is one in a series of firsthand accounts detailing how students’ summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Jarron McAllister is a rising 3L from Flint, Michigan who plans to pursue a career in employment law either at a legal services organization or a plaintiff side firm.
This summer, I am working in the Welfare Unit of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (“CLS”). The Unit’s main goal is to assist people who have been denied access to public benefits or who have had their benefits unjustly terminated, and to advocate for a more robust and accessible public benefits scheme across the state of Pennsylvania. Thus far, I have been able to assist with intakes; follow up with Philadelphia Department of Human Services representatives; engage in legislative advocacy supporting the continuance of the General Assistance benefit; write a memo about a state constitutional issue; and draft a comment to a federal agency.
My courses at Penn Law have provided me with a solid baseline for my work at CLS. Professor Sozi Tulante’s State Constitutional Litigation course exposed me to different parts of the Pennsylvania’s Constitution. This class experience, in addition to my engagement with the Michigan Constitution during my 1L summer at the ACLU of Michigan, has allowed me to engage with state constitutions in a nuanced and thoughtful way. Courses like Advanced Legal Research, which has helped me with creating efficient research plans, and Legislation, which has given me a solid basis for understanding the legislative process, have been of great value during these first few weeks.
In addition to my coursework, my experiential work while at Penn Law has helped me grow as an advocate and public interest student. As an extern at the Public Interest Law Center this past Spring, I developed my research and writing skills through memo and complaint writing and learned more about the intricacies of the different elements of trial court. Through my pro bono project — the Employment Advocacy Project — I worked to strengthen my client interviewing and advocacy skills, conducting intakes and representing individuals in unemployment compensation hearings. All of these skills — especially those relating to research, writing and interviewing — have been quite useful and have helped me better engage with clients while at CLS.
My time at CLS has been, and will be, invaluable as I engage in pro bono work and clinicals during my 3L year. This experience will also influence the classes that I plan to take. As I aspire to pursue a career in employment law, I expect to engage with a number of low-income clients. This summer, coupled with courses that provide me with more information to assist these individuals, will help me become a more informed and more effective advocate.