I am fervently passionate about criminal justice reform, more specifically the end of mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, and recidivism rates within Black and Brown communities. That being said, I have had an immensely rewarding experience at Manhattan Justice Opportunities thus far; I have already gotten a chance to shadow court procedures, legal clinical intakes, and client group sessions.
My long-term career goal is to open a non-profit organization that addresses these systemic issues within our country. Manhattan Justice Opportunities will grant me the necessary experience of working at a legal non-profit organization that closely resembles what I’d like to accomplish in the future. During my internship, I will be expanding upon my knowledge on topics such as restorative justice, drug diversion programs, and other alternatives to incarceration, all of which tackle the broader issue of mass incarceration and recidivism rates within our country.
Additionally, as a future criminal defense attorney, it is imperative for me to learn more about the alternative routes to incarceration, since incarceration is not the only, nor the best, solution for every individual who enters the criminal justice system. Manhattan Justice Opportunities has perfected an individualized process that prioritizes the needs of each client within their organization. This organization focuses on the betterment of their clients rather than financial compensation, which is a mindset that every lawyer should have and one that I hope to apply in my future practices.
For much of this year I have doubted exactly where I would like to take my future career; several months ago, however, I realized that first-hand professional experience would be the most telling factor in steering my decision. After completing my third week as an intern at Attorney Rose Randazzo’s law office, I have found this to be true. I have been able to make better-informed decisions about my next steps in life.
The environment of Attorney Randazzo’s office is professional and cordial, with a hint of calm. This was a relief to find, considering both how unsure of my career I was and how intimidating the prospects are of stepping into a new professional internship. From day one, where I learned the basics of how the office runs, to this week, where I have just finished writing a seven-page memorandum on a local zoning ordinance, I feel confident in deciding that law school will be my next step. I have arrived at this decision because of how much I have been enjoying working in a legal environment. It is a lot more like school than one would think—it is structured, informative, and a lot of fun! Thankfully, I love school, so working for Attorney Randazzo has been wonderful.
In these first weeks, I have learned about insurance settlements, incorporation, bilateral development contracts, and how all of these (and more) can be done ethically and professionally. I hope, as the summer continues, that I may refine this knowledge and build upon it; I will be no expert by the end, but I believe that I am gaining a valuable foundation to take with me as I prepare to apply to law school (and, of course, through to my career afterward). The most important thing I have learned in this short time is that being an attorney is not simply about making money, it’s also about building a network and creating relationships. It’s also not just about personally upholding the law but making sure to hold others accountable, as well. My internship focuses on personal injury and commercial development—two areas of law that do not necessarily coincide with our conventional ideas of “justice.” However, I see the value in them; I see the potential.
As I go forward, I will be keeping the Jesuit question of cura personalis in mind as I try to understand how I will make myself better, all while being a man for others. No matter the area of law, I’ve learned, there must always be an observation of striving to do good. I see this in Attorney Randazzo’s office, who is an alumna of the University of Scranton. She understands being one for others, regardless of what one does. I am so grateful to be shadowing someone I can relate to and work with who shares my sentiments. The synergism we have is important to me, as my next life stage approaches. The knowledge I’m gaining now will be the cornerstone for everything else that comes after it. Being an attorney is difficult but rewarding, but difficulty is code for potential. Most importantly, this means that I will always be able to improve; no win or fail will ever be the end—and I like that prospect. Through my work, I hope to learn more about myself professionally, to continually learn and grow.
This summer, I am interning in the Outreach Department of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a nonprofit based in Washington, DC. CMEP’s mission is to educate American Christians on the current human rights issues in the Middle East (particularly in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories), elevate diverse Middle East voices, and advocate for changing U.S. policies concerning the Middle East to work toward holistic peacebuilding. Through my internship, I hope to learn more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and how to understand various perspectives while advocating for the human rights of all involved. I am inspired to grow in becoming an active peacemaker and compassionate advocate.
I am a Philosophy and Theology double major with a Peace and Justice concentration, currently plan to attend law school, and my time at CMEP will certainly help me in my future career path as a lawyer. Advocating for those in need is something I hope to do as a lawyer. More specifically, this internship provides an opportunity for me to explore whether I would ever want to work for a non-profit or even pursue a specific career in peacebuilding advocacy in the Middle East. On a practical level, I am gaining professional communication skills through my outreach work as well as organizational and planning skills through various cataloguing tasks. I’m incredibly thankful for this amazing opportunity to be working in DC for CMEP!