The ATJ Internship Program (ATJIP) Summer 2020 application period is closed. We welcome you to check back in July for the Fall 2020 application and guidelines.
A message from the Texas Access to Justice Commission regarding our response to COVID-19: The Commission will be accepting applications for the Fall ATJIP. We hope you understand that during these uncertain weeks and months, as new information flows out daily related to COVID-19, we must adapt accordingly to keep the health and safety of our program participants, partners, employees, and the general public at the forefront of our actions in this rapidly changing situation.
Access to Justice Internship Program (ATJIP) provides a unique opportunity for law students to participate in an internship with a legal aid organization. These internships educate students about the civil legal needs of low-income people and provide future lawyers with the skills to address these problems.
Each law student is supervised by accomplished lawyers and has the opportunity to provide direct legal services to low-income clients while receiving hands-on training and mentorship. Each supervising attorney provides their law students with a variety of experiences and assignments, including significant research and writing, which helps them learn about access to justice matters, legal decision-making, advocacy skills, attorney-client relationships, and legal institutions.
Prospective interns must secure placement with his/her desired legal services organization in order to be considered for an ATJ internship stipend. Summer interns will receive a stipend of $5,000 per semester for 400 hours of work.
The internships are open to law school students from any law school throughout the country, but preference is given to applicants from Texas law schools.
Here’s what some of the recent ATJIP participants had to say about their experience:
Stephanie Harlien, 1L, St. Mary's University School of Law
This internship experience, first and foremost, affirmed my desire to work in public interest upon graduation and passing the bar exam. This internship was one of the most rewarding experiences I have endured.
My time at [Family Violence Prevention Services] was filled with numerous hugs and tears and hours of hard work. However, during the course of my 400+ hours, one client truly stood out. I had done her intake application, the first step in the process, so I knew her from the beginning before we had even met face-to-face. I met with her for the initial client meeting. I drafted her pleadings for a protective order and a divorce, and I helped her write an affidavit documenting the history of the abuse she endured...I helped draft and gather discovery for her case, and I helped my supervisor prepare for her hearings. After the judge announced the order at the final hearing, the client looked so elated, so filled with joy that words could not describe her emotions at that time. She was crying and hugging me, saying how grateful she was. I really did not think I made that much of a difference, seeing as how I was not an attorney on her case, merely a lowly law student.
This experience allowed me to see the impact I could have on clients such as her. I made such a difference in her life, and I do not think that feeling or memory will ever leave me.
Diana Melendez, 1L, University of Houston Law Center
I had such a wonderful experience this summer that I would definitely recommend students to work at a nonprofit for a summer and, particularly the [Equal Justice Center], if they are interested in serving immigrant and low income communities. Working at a nonprofit and helping those that truly need the help is an experience that will stay with you for a very long time. It also demonstrates how important it is for our communities to support our legal nonprofits.
Allison Simkins, 1L, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
I believe the projects I worked on and the experiences I gained provided me with invaluable legal training. I was incredibly fortunate to experience an array of opportunities through the Texas Advocacy Project this past year [including Research Projects, Case Recommendations, Legal Drafting, Bill Petitioning, Appellate Writing, and Practical Experience.] Through this experience I learned how many challenges face victims of domestic violence and was inspired by the work of these attorneys and how they sought to help these clients in every way.
If you have questions about the Texas Access to Justice Internship Program, please contact Catherine Galloway.
For more on the transformational experiences of law students working at legal aid organizations, watch our video “Access to Justice: A Journey for a Lifetime.”