Meet Jessie Barbin RLAW ‘23, Rutgers Law School in Camden
Where did you spend your summer working? Justice for Our Neighbors of the Delaware Valley - Philadelphia.
What did you learn there? What did you learn there? I learned a great deal about immigration law by doing legal research and writing, but the most rewarding experience for me this summer was conducting weekly clinics in rural New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the clinics we would conduct interviews with locals seeking different forms of relief. More than anything this reminded me of some of the more frustrating parts of immigration law: that there is not a relief pathway for everyone. It also became especially clear that even where there is no legal relief the work does not stop there. We developed strategies to offer resource packages and referrals to trusted local organizations to provide alternative support to those not ready for legal relief.
How did receiving a public interest grant allow you to have this experience? My summer internship at JFON would have been much more difficult if it was not for my Maida stipend. JFON is a new organization that is small and still figuring out work allocation and looking for resources. Because of my stipend I was able to work for an organization who could not afford to have an intern and in turn I got experience working with a grassroots organization in its early stages which provided me with a passionate and invaluable support network of mentors and colleagues.
What would you tell other students? One of the best parts about doing public interest work is that the community is very supportive, so you can get really involved and creative with projects that may be of interest to you. It is also important, however, to not overextend and set strong boundaries for your work time. This is especially true when you are working mostly from home.
Anything else you’d like to add? Immigration law is a field that requires creativity and dedication, but regardless of the legal field someone wants to go into, it is imperative to be aware of the many ways a person's immigration status can affect their rights.