Spending the summer working with Beth and Paul Padilla has not only been meaningful, but also extremely interesting, educational, and fun. On my first day, the Padillas showed me around the office, including the small desk and computer that they had purchased especially for their new intern – or in other words, for me—to use. Then Beth and I went straight to court for a hearing, and quickly back to the office where I observed a client meeting conducted in Spanish. This high-paced work would continue for the next 4 months, while I spent about 10 hours a week in the office, in the court room, and even delivering subpoenas.
Since I have an interest in human rights and immigration, and I speak Spanish, about three quarters of my work was done with Beth. She taught me how to draft letters to clients, and how to put together petitions for immigration clients, by sorting through evidence and creating exhibits. She also gave me some tools for conducting legal research. I was invited to sit in on client meetings, which often took place in Spanish, where I observed first hand the complex world of immigration.
At first, this work which was so new to me seemed a little abstract; however, it was all made real when I met the clients with whom Beth was working. This was really making an impact on their lives—she was helping them become U.S. citizens.
Another side of Beth’s work which interested me was her role as Guardian Ad Litem, where she represents the best interests of children. Beth advocates for children who have few others to speak on their behalf. Although the hearings could be tough to watch, it was very interesting to see the integral importance of the role Beth plays.
Some of my time was spent with Paul, who also proved to be an adept and enthusiastic teacher. He invited me to observe in court, and spent time explaining legal concepts, going over the cases he was involved in. It was particularly interesting to follow one case, in family law, all the way through, and see the results. He also emphasized to me a very important trait to have as a lawyer: meticulous and detailed organization.
I experienced another aspect of law with Paul—delivery of subpoenas. While delivering letters, in person, which order the recipient to testify in court, I saw many faces change to confused, angry, happy, scared, or apathetic. An interesting job to say the least!
My internship culminated with a VAWA case. VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act, and for women immigrants, it is extremely important. VAWA states that any woman who has been abused by her U.S. citizen spouse, can petition for herself to become a lawful permanent resident, rather than wait for her spouse to petition on her behalf, as the law normally requires. This was a heart-wrenching and complicated case, but with Beth’s guidance, I put together the extensive exhibits, with overwhelming evidence in the client’s favor. I have yet to hear the results of the petition, but I very much hope it is approved and the client can free herself from the cycle of violence.
Going to law school is an enormous investment. I have asked myself countless times if this purchase of education is worth 25 years of debt. Interning at Padilla Law was a chance to really see what being a lawyer means, in a day-to-day sense. How would my time be spent? Would I enjoy it? Would I thrive at it? I am very grateful to Beth and Paul for allowing me the chance to explore this, gaining invaluable insight into what it means to practice law in a small firm – leaving me in a better position to one day embark on my own career in law.