The ATJ Internship Program (ATJIP) Summer 2021 application period is OPEN.
A message from the Commission regarding COVID-19: While the ATJIP is still fully functioning, we hope you understand that due to the uncertainity surrounding COVID-19, we must (and will) adapt as appropriate to keep the health and safety of our program participants, partners, employees, and the general public at the forefront of our actions.
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. Spring and Fall interns will receive a stipend of $2,500 per semester for 200 hours of work. Summer interns receive a stipend of $5,000 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 a few recent ATJIP participants shared about their experience:
During my internship with University of Houston Law Center, I was able to contribute to the Center for Children Law & Policy handbook for juvenile defense attorneys, work as an editor for an international children’s rights book, created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), serve as a street law instructor for Harris County Juvenile Probation Department Programs at their Educational Transitional Center, and assist in the upcoming Texas legislative session by created a policy and financial analysis to accomplish the proposed budget concerning juvenile justice issues. I am proud to be an [ATJIP participant for] a program that believes in making a difference in our society for the betterment of tomorrow. ~Mykal Peterson, University of Houston Law Center, Center for Children Law & Policy (CCLP) - Houston, Attending University of Houston Law Center
My internship with the Equal Justice Center was my first opportunity to work alongside employment law attorneys. I worked on six cases that were at different stages of litigation, most of which involved violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act against transnational workers. I had the opportunity to draft discovery documents to be served upon the defendants and delve into the evidence produced by both the clients and their employers. One of my most edifying experiences was the opportunity to prepare for and observe the deposition of an EJC client. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to engage deeply with the law that affects workers in low-wage positions in Texas and to engage directly with clients. ~Melanie Allen, Internship with Equal Justice Center – Austin, Attending William and Mary Law School
I had the opportunity to work on housing and zoning projects that exposed me to the disproportionate manner in which low-income individuals are affected. I conducted research on the history of the community and how different local policies and procedures have had a disparate impact on different demographics in the community. The internship experience taught me there is a huge need for individuals who are willing to leverage their legal knowledge and skills for the impoverished in our state, and I look forward to continuing to do just that. ~Tanner Garner, Internship with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas – Ft. Worth, Attending Texas A&M Univ. School of Law
I gained valuable experience and provided valuable service working remotely. I edit the manual and complete pre-screens or applications and researched various property law issues as well as implicit bias in the workplace. I am glad I was able to help fill a gap in resources due to the pandemic, which has left even more underprivileged Texans in need of legal services than ever before. ~Natalia Hamilton, Internship with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas – Dallas, Attending Baylor Law School
I had the opportunity to help individuals and communities facing unique issues arising from COVID-19. CRP saw rapidly growing problems of poor people facing eviction, unemployment, hunger, and unmet medical needs. I helped defend evictions within the community and conducted research on a force majeure clause, a private right to action involving lease agreements, and the CARES Act. I also gathered information on CARES Act properties & daily evictions filed in counties across North Texas. I also worked with CRP concerning the COVID-19 outbreaks at the meatpacking factories and was able to conduct research and engage in community outreach to help the plant workers. During my internship, I gained new skills and did some great work for the communities in these harsh times. ~Rafael Haros, Jr., Internship with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Community Revitalization Project – Ft. Worth, Attending University of Tulsa College of Law
My favorite part about my internship experience was getting to observe mediations. It was really powerful because the clients got to advocate for themselves with the attorney’s support, rather than in a divorce hearing where the attorney advocates for the client. An interesting experience was observing hearings via Zoom and YouTube. Watching the courts move forward with their daily business through all of [the COVID] challenges was inspiring. Drafting documents was the most interesting part of my day-to-day work and extremely beneficial to my learning and understanding. I am grateful to the ATJIP for the work I did this summer and the work I plan to do in the future. ~Lydia Harris, Internship with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid – San Antonio, Attending St. Mary's University School of Law
Every project I worked on provided details about special education services and important legal training I will carry with me throughout and after the rest of law school. One experience that will stay with me is one where I was able to work with a client and help her with her child’s case involving the use of restraint in a school setting. Through this case, I also learned about ways to help clients who are struggling with mental illness and the importance of establishing trust with the client and letting them know they are heard. Working with this client reminded me why the work we are doing to help meet the civil legal needs in our communities is incredibly important. ~Steffi Lee, Internship with Disability Rights Texas – Houston, Attending South Texas College of Law
I completed an internship this summer with Houston Volunteer Lawyers that focused on bankruptcy law. I learned a lot about interpersonal skills with co-workers as well as how to have compassion and empathy for clients while accomplishing the goal at hand. I also learned bankruptcy involves an array of areas of law that all link together in the process of filing for bankruptcy. My supervising attorney taught me so much not only about bankruptcy, but also about divorces, wills, and other areas of law. ~Faith Miller, Internship with Houston Volunteer Lawyers – Houston Attending TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Throughout the internship, I learned the importance of helping others and how an individual’s quality of life could change because of effective lawyering. I learned how being a lawyer brings value to people who would have not been able to gain access to legal services due to their economic and financial status. My participation in the ATJIP rejuvenated my legal skills while providing a great mentorship environment. I was able to work with many clients and help with their tax-related issues. I was also given an opportunity to present two cases and provide legal solutions on how to move each case forward. This experience helped me effectively maximize my potential, offered personal satisfaction by helping the public, and filled my soul with a great sense of pride. ~Olubiyi Ogundipe, Internship with Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project (Thurgood Marshall School of Law) – Houston, Attending TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law
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.”