The summer months are a valuable time for New York Law School (NYLS) students to gain practical legal experience, expand their professional networks, and deepen their practice area interests—and take advantage of a variety of opportunities that help prepare them for their future legal careers. See how these four NYLS students spent this past summer and what they learned at their internships.
Alexandra Adams ’23
This summer, Alexandra Adams ’23 served as a Summer Associate in Civil Rights at Beldock Levine & Hoffman (BLH). She spent much of her time working on civil rights class actions, which included projects to combat human rights abuses at Rikers Island, to hold the NYPD accountable for unconstitutional policing practices during the 2020 George Floyd protests, and to monitor NYPD compliance with the 2012 Floyd v. City of New York remedial order that declared stop and frisk unconstitutional.
“I had an incredibly immersive and eye-opening experience at BLH,” Adams said. “My time there helped me develop my legal writing, research, and deposition skills; determine the nuances of calculating damages; and gain deeper insights into case strategy. Because I want to become a civil rights litigator, learning the complex strategy behind class actions and gaining first-hand experience will benefit my future career immensely.”
One of the highlights for Adams was the opportunity to write a supplemental brief on the apportionment of damages in a wrongful conviction case where the plaintiff had been wrongfully incarcerated for almost 20 years. Through the experience, she learned not only the mechanics of how the court places a monetary value on the irreparable harms that accompany wrongful convictions and incarcerations but how to help a client share their story and advocate for them effectively.
Rey Llena ’24
Rey Llena ’24 spent his summer months as the Summer Legal Intern for the Veterans Assistance Project with the New York City Bar Justice Center. During his internship, Llena was responsible for connecting low-income veterans with volunteer attorneys to assist in discharge status upgrades and filing claims for service-connected disability compensation.
Among his duties, he learned how to conduct initial assessments and intake interviews, communicate and manage expectations effectively with clients, and hone his legal research skills. He also conducted extensive research and wrote a memorandum discussing the legal consequences of veteran service-connected disability benefits concerning divorce and family law. His work with the Veterans Assistance Project impressed on him the critical need for pro-bono legal services as he witnessed the disparity between the legal needs of low-income New Yorkers and the limited resources available to meet those needs.
“Overall, the experience gave me a hands-on opportunity to apply my legal education to real-life situations, and I learned how to be flexible and creative when advocating for clients,” said Llena. “The veteran population is unique because their issues can span across multiple fields of law, so I often had to shift my thinking to ascertain how different bodies of law interact with others throughout different jurisdictions to determine every possible outcome for a client. I am grateful to the City Bar Justice Center for providing me the opportunity to develop critical lawyering skills.”
Melissa Rocco ’23
There are many opportunities for students to expand their professional network and experience through NYLS alumni connections as well. Over the summer, Melissa Rocco ’23 had such an opportunity, working in the real estate field with Andrea Shapiro ’89 as a Law Clerk at Andrea Shapiro PLLC. Rocco assisted Shapiro with real estate closings and helped prepare petitions and other documents for litigation. Shapiro’s practice includes both transactional and litigation work, so it gave Rocco the opportunity to gain more first-hand experience with the court system, learn how to draft petitions, and strengthen her litigation skills, an area she hadn’t worked in as much in previous positions.
“My internship with Andrea was a great learning experience. By the end of the summer, I felt confident in my ability to handle closings and litigation work,” said Rocco. “In the future, I hope to apply the practical knowledge I gained and practice both transactional and litigation work as she does!”
She also noted that, throughout the summer, Shapiro highlighted the importance of strong writing, reflecting on NYLS’s programs and support to help law students become strong writers. Shapiro also spoke highly of Dean William LaPiana and still references lessons she learned during his Wills, Trusts, and Estates course. “It was so nice to see the impact that NYLS had on an alum,” Rocco said.
Sammy Silverstein ’24
Going international for the summer, Sammy Silverstein ’24 traveled to Athens, Greece to work as a Legal Intern for Safe Place International. The organization seeks to provide direct aid and advocacy for the most vulnerable and marginalized in the refugee community, especially those who are seeking asylum from persecution for their LGBTQIA+ identity, and Silverstein’s unique role engaged her in not only traditional legal work like contract drafting, but also collaborating with case workers and community-organizing with local partners.
“This internship prepared me for my future career in so many ways: I was reminded to always roll with the punches and keep an open mind, to always remain curious and ask people questions, to learn from others, and to be unafraid to respectfully and diplomatically share my perspective,” Silverstein explained.
As part of the experience, she also was able to help prepare for and participate in Athens Pride. “Getting to interact with people from all over the world and seeing how much the Pride event meant to the refugees I worked with was an incredible and insightful experience,” she said. “I learned so much from my time working in Greece, and I am so grateful to have gained that perspective.”
Career Resources at NYLS
No matter where students are in their career journey, the Office of Academic Planning and Career Development is committed to providing NYLS law students with tailored guidance to fit their career path. Throughout the school year, they also send out a weekly newsletter, The Inside Track, to keep students up-to-date on job opportunities, networking events, professional development, and more. Whether a student is looking for the best way to add their summer position to their résumé, searching for the next semester’s internship or externship, or preparing for a job interview, they can email or stop by the office on the fifth floor of the E building to get the support they need to achieve their goals.