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Foundation fellows on the job

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Foundation fellows on the job


Camille Murawski
Special to the News

The Florida Bar Foundation has hosted paid internships for first- and second-year law students through its Legal Services Summer Fellowships. So far, nearly 300 students have been selected for the competitive fellowships, which allow students to work on real cases at Foundation-funded legal aid organizations.

“It is professionally gratifying to see so many law students choosing to work for the summer at one of our legal aid organizations,” said Foundation President John W. Thornton. “Not only are the students able to apply what they have learned so far in law school, but they are also able to gain valuable insight into the lives and legal needs of those living in poverty. Year after year, we hear from the students and the host organizations after the summer fellowships are over that the experience was outstanding.”

This year, 34 law students from across Florida and the country were chosen for the summer fellowships, which commenced at the end of May. The 11-week fellowships — which pay first-year law students $5,000 and second-year law students $6,000 — have become increasingly popular and allow the students to work on issues ranging from representing homeless immigrants at administrative hearings for supplemental security income to developing an educational curriculum for fifth-graders on financial literacy and predatory lending.

Florida Lawyers’ Legal Insurance Corporation has a tradition of supporting the work of the Foundation’s summer fellows, and this year sponsored Enita Kushi, a first-year student at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

When she was very young, Kushi and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Albania. Kushi still remembers the difficulties her parents had when faced with a civil legal problem and did not know where to turn.

“Lacking the financial resources to hire an attorney should not be an impediment for people who need legal assistance,” Kushi wrote in her application to the Foundation.

The Project Directors Association has selected Willa Payne from City University of New York Law School as a Terrence Russell Fellow. The PDA began selecting law students to honor the role that Russell, a Broward attorney and past-president of The Florida Bar and the Foundation, has played in helping to secure access to civil legal assistance funding.

In her application to the Foundation, Payne wrote, “I want to provide legal services to those who cannot afford them, and I would like to learn new areas of law that I have not yet been exposed to in law school.”

Natasha Moodie, a second-year law student at Vermont Law School, was selected as the Foundation’s first Rebecca Knox Fellow. Rebecca Knox, who died in August 2006, was a dedicated lawyer at Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida in Broward County. She had performed 780 pro bono hours for the organization as a law student and then went on to join Coast to Coast as an attorney, where she represented victims of domestic violence. Moodie is scheduled to work in the area of family law at Coast to Coast.

C amille Murawski is the communications manager for the Foundation and can be reached by calling (407) 843-0045 or e-mail [email protected] flabarfndn.org.

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