As DukeEngage Miami comes to an end, I wanted to take the time to reflect on the past two months here.
The work I did this summer was much different than I imagined. DukeEngage Miami’s focus is on “empowering immigrant communities, with a focus on social justice, legal advocacy, human rights education and awareness, and policy implementation,” but I am unsure whether the work I did this summer reflects this focus. I applied to this program thinking I would be working with issues of immigration, but I was placed in the Tenants’ Rights unit at LSGM.
Through this program, however, I was able to gain invaluable experience working in the public legal sector. Unlike other law clerks at the office who are law students, I am an undergraduate student with a limited skill set and legal knowledge. Consequently, the work I did was more logistical. My work usually did not involve direct interaction with clients, but it did serve to make my supervisor’s job easier by reducing the time she would have spent on administrative tasks and allowing her to spend more time on complicated and pressing tasks.
My supervisor and other attorneys in the office were kind enough to provide me opportunities to do intake interviews both on the phone and in-person with clients, work with legal documents, and conduct research for specific cases and clients. Most of the cases I worked on involved mobile home parks. I was able to meet many different people, hear various stories, and witness real changes happen one step at a time.
LSGM, unlike other worksites, is located far from the Downtown Miami area. While other students from the program were able to explore the city during their lunch or after work, it was difficult for students at LSGM to look around, especially with a thirty-minute lunch break. And Miami in the summer is HOT. The weather is either raining or boiling. I mostly stayed in the dorm throughout, but looking back I wish I took better advantage of this beautiful city.
Despite the heat, the rain, and the public transportation that runs on “Miami-time,” I thoroughly enjoyed this summer. I enjoyed learning more about the public legal sector, exploring the city of Miami (not just South Beach), and spending time with thoughtful and caring individuals.