Summer 2014: A great Experience for our Diversity Fellow!

Tianna Bethune, Empire Justice Center 2014 Diversity Fellow August 06, 2014

This summer, I had the opportunity to move back to my hometown of Rochester, New York and work with an extraordinary group of attorneys at Empire Justice Center.  With great pleasure, I accepted the position as the first Diversity Fellow and I am very glad that I did!  This summer has been full of fulfilling learning experiences.  I was given the opportunity to work directly with clients, attend a mediation session, help prepare a case to be filed in federal court and more!  I am especially appreciative of my supervisors Peter Dellinger, Reyna Ramolete and Bryan Hetherington.  They afforded me the privilege to work in an environment free from micromanagement where I was able to put my research, writing and time management skills to the test.

I was introduced to three new areas of law: consumer law, real estate law and employment law.  In consumer law, I worked on a case that required me to gain experience in contracts, specifically the nuances associated with exculpatory clauses.  In the area of real estate, I assisted a client by researching transactions, fraud, misrepresentation and warranties.  In the employment law context, I calculated damages, wrote a complaint and prepared the documents to file a Fair Labor Standards Act case in federal court.  The diversity in my work load allowed me to narrow my focus on what I would like to do after graduation.  This is invaluable in that every student fears making the mistake of accepting a position that they dread being in after law school.

In addition, I was given the opportunity to write a policy memorandum for Bryan Hetherington, Chief Counsel in the Rochester office.  As a student, it was priceless to receive direct mentorship from a leader in the legal community.  Mr. Hetherington actually took the time to read each of my drafts, while patiently guiding me through the writing process.  This was a tremendous learning experience because my law school courses had not prepared me to simultaneously advocate to both members and non-members of the legal community.

I decided to apply for a position with Empire Justice Center because their commitment to serving the community and giving back is aligned with my interests.  I would definitely recommend other law students who are interested in public interest law to apply for a position with this organization.  The environment cultivated by the individuals in this office is very relaxed, welcoming and inspiring.  I am truly grateful for the experience.