We invited SLU LAW students with summer internships to share their experiences with us throughout the summer as part of a blog series called "Show Us Your Summer." This week, we hear from rising 2Ls Claire Wiltse and Keri Smith.
Claire Wiltse – Rising 2L
Hi! I’m Claire Wiltse, and I’m a rising 2L at SLU LAW. Originally from northern Minnesota, I am grateful I braved the St. Louis heat this summer for the chance to work with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in Alton, Ill.
The Alton Land of Lincoln office serves seven counties in Illinois. Our office has eight attorneys who represent low-income people needing representation in civil cases. For example, Land of Lincoln handles cases in foreclosure, housing, public benefits, education, divorce, custody and domestic violence orders of protection. My law clerk position is grant funded through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and therefore, I work with victims of domestic violence. Amy Morgan and Andrea Neubauer –both SLU LAW alumni – are two family law attorneys at the Land of Lincoln office that work exclusively with domestic violence. Amy Morgan is my supervising attorney, and we work most often at the Madison County Courthouse in Edwardsville, Ill. (see photo).
Land of Lincoln partners with Oasis Domestic Violence Shelter in Alton to offer assistance filling out orders of protection. There is a lawyer or advocate available every day of the week at the Madison County Courthouse, and the help makes the process of filing an order of protection less intimidating. Additionally, the paperwork can be confusing to anyone, but even more unclear to someone experiencing a lot of trauma. Mondays and Fridays Land of Lincoln staffs the courthouse project, and Amy is available to give legal advice. My role is to help fill out the order of protection paperwork, take intakes for our office and listen to the judge’s hearing on the order. We help anywhere from one to fifteen people in a day, and we can often represent those clients later at their plenary court date or potential divorce proceedings. On Thursdays, a family law judge will hear all plenary orders of protection on the docket and we spend the entire day in court. While our office represents our clients, we also draft default judgments or extensions when needed. Often, I will only spend Tuesdays in the Alton office working on legal research or contacting clients. I love that each week centers on client contact, is fast-moving and offers a lot of hands-on experience.
Before law school I did a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps/Americorps and I worked as a case manager in a domestic violence shelter in Portland, Ore. This summer, my position feels like a good transition from the advocacy I did in the shelter to the new legal knowledge and advocacy I learned my first year at SLU LAW. There are a lot of skills – like safety planning and trauma-informed care – that I learned while working at shelter and continue to utilize. Additionally, it is hopeful to see how the first-year law classes do apply in the real world! Amy and Andrea are great examples (and mentors) of how to legally advocate for people experiencing difficult situations with passion and skill. I want to work for justice for women, and I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to grow in my ability to do that at Land of Lincoln.
Keri Smith – Rising 2L
My name is Keri Smith and prior to law school I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Memphis. I recently finished my 1L year at SLU LAW and am currently a law clerk at Brown & Brown, a personal injury firm located in downtown St. Louis.
Prior to law school I worked at a regional personal injury firm in Memphis, Tenn., which made me realize I wanted to continue to pursue my interest in personal injury law through a summer internship. I spent the first half of the summer at the SLU campus in Madrid for a study abroad program, and three weeks ago returned to the USA and began working at Brown & Brown. I was nervous about splitting my summer and being behind when I started Brown & Brown, but the attorneys’ doors are always open if I have a question or need help with anything.
I am now three weeks into my internship and absolutely love it. On a typical day I am drafting settlement proposals or petitions and doing research for upcoming cases. The atmosphere of the office is very friendly and there are two other summer law clerks from SLU LAW. We all run ideas by each other and help each other when we get stuck on a project. It is nice having two of my classmates here so that we can go to lunch together, help each other and just take a minute to unwind when we need a quick break.
I also love that I get the opportunity to talk with clients and see the impact that our firm has on them. There are always clients coming in and out of the office, and attorneys going out to see clients. Many of our clients are severely injured and without vehicles due to being in accidents so our attorneys are always more than happy to go see them if they can’t make it to the office.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at Brown & Brown. The fact that they were more than supportive about me splitting the summer to be able to study abroad in Spain just shows how lucky I am to have the opportunity to work at Brown & Brown. I am excited to continue to work here throughout my 2L year and learn as much as I can.
Show Us Your Summer