So far, the work that I have done at PLA has been very administrative. Surprisingly, this has been very helpful in my experience learning about Family Law. I am a somewhat restless person- despite me thinking of myself as a very patient person. I wanted to immediately dive into client intake and getting to work on my own. At the same time, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of helping others with my lack of experience. It almost feels like being thrown into a shark tank. The small interview rooms with their claustrophobic space being the tank and the intimidating complicated situations of the clients being the sharks. It is difficult to state whether or not I am ready, but not unlike other situations where I have felt this way, the best possible way to go about this is to simply dive in.
For example, when I once had to help people at the Court Help Center, every gland in my body started acting up. My heart raced, it was like I was being interrogated. However, by the third or fourth time, I felt comfortable enough to give answers but also confident enough to say “I do not know” and answer questions. Eventually, I worked my way to being incredibly confident in my answers. So much so that I am able to work the Help Center by myself.
Another important task in my internship is answering the Hotline in Spanish. When observing the paralegals it looked incredibly difficult because they spoke so fluidly and sounded extremely well-rehearsed. At first, I was nervous about that too, but so far, I have been able to handle it with grace and dignity as well.
Taking in clients’ cases is a whole different monster, however. There is a formation of some sort of personal relationship that exceeds simply regurgitating legal information to the client. Longer-lasting bonds happen when working with a client’s case at PLA. That is why I feel both excited and scared at the same time.