Rutgers Law student Sara Gray '20 answers five questions about her summer internship.
1) What is your summer job and what are you doing there?
I am interning at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project (PIP), which works to exonerate those convicted of crimes they did not commit and to prevent innocent people from being convicted. It has been an amazing experience.
I participated in the client screening process by writing a report evaluating the investigative and legal avenues for a potential client. I was also able to help draft post-conviction motions and petitions for existing clients. PIP gave the interns plenty of opportunities to observe court proceedings. We also had the chance to visit Graterford Prison in Philadelphia to meet with clients. We got to witness the culmination of years and years of litigation and work and investigation and see two people be freed from prison after serving 20 to 30 years. That was really amazing on a personal level to see someone actually walk out of the courtroom and to see them reunite with their families.
2) How did Rutgers Law School help you get this summer internship?
Throughout the year, Rutgers Law School provides a number of career panels that allows students to get an idea of what opportunities were available for summer internships. PIP participated in one of the panels and I was able to hear more about the organization and speak to their staff attorney directly about the organization. Through Rutgers Law, I applied for a Maida Public Interest Fellowship, which allowed me to interview for the summer position at PIP.
3) What activities are you involved in at law school?
I am a Social Justice Scholar. In my 1L year, I volunteered for the Voters Rights Project and participated in the Mediation Pro Bono Project. In my upcoming 2L year, I will be president of the Association for Public Interest Law, and will participate in Pro Bono Estate Planning and work as a teaching assistant for Estates and Trusts. I also work part-time in the law office of Grayson H. Heberley III, Esq. in Haddonfield, an estate and elder law firm.
4) Where are you from? Where did earn your undergraduate degree? Why did you pick Rutgers Law?
I grew up in Moorestown, N.J. and graduated from La Salle University. I was in small business and corporate sales for over ten years. Later, I earned my teaching certificate in New Jersey and taught high school English in Camden for three years. After I had my daughter, I decided to take a position at the law firm where I work now. It was there that I was inspired to pursue a law degree.
I chose to attend Rutgers Law School because it is an exceptional program. When I looked at the school, I realized the faculty and administrators were engaged and interested in who I was as a person. The school continues to provide opportunities and support that have allowed me to create my own success.
5) How will this summer's experience help you in your future legal career?
I think this experience helped me understand what zealous advocacy for clients looks like on a day to day basis. These dramatic moments of exonerations are the culmination of years of persistent and creative legal strategies. Watching the legal team prepare for the challenges ahead was one of the most beneficial lessons I had during my summer experience.