November 28, 2016

Intern Experiences

Dara Valanejad
The ABA Commission on Law and Aging provides their interns with a wonderful learning opportunity and I highly encourage anyone interested in public interest work to consider applying. While I was not familiar with elder law before I began my internship, I knew that my time interning over the summer would be for the benefit of more than just myself. Throughout my internship, I was given every opportunity to help create documents and narratives that will come to provide guidance to lawyers and laypersons alike for years to come.

Washington, D.C., is a great location for any internship and the ABA made every effort to help interns take advantage of the location. The Commission on Law and Aging invited us to attend events at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Hart Senate Office Building, where we had an opportunity to hear Senators and House Representatives discuss issues related to our summer projects. Additionally, the ABA also attempted broaden the internship experience by planning tours of the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, and by providing a meeting with the Ambassador-at-Large of War Crimes Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

While I have had several internships throughout the course of my academic career, I know that my internship at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging will be the one I will never forget. Although I do not know where I will be interning next summer, I know that it will be hard to beat my time at the ABA.

Hillary Anderson
Interning with the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging has been one of the best experiences of my academic and pre-professional career. The entire staff was amazing; the work was interesting; and the opportunities for networking, learning about the field of elder law; and gaining exposure to public interest law in D.C. were unparalleled. Even if you are unsure of what kind of law you want to practice or whether you want to be involved in public policy work, this internship is an experience you don’t want to miss.

My favorite part of interning with the Commission was the amount of responsibility on my desk on any given day. While other legal interns were organizing spreadsheets and managing Twitter accounts, I spent my summer knee-deep in substantive law. On my very first day, I was on WestLaw tracking changes in state legislation for advance care directives. By week two, I had been published in the Commission’s journal Bifocal.

Another great part of the experience was working with the staff here. I was new to elder law when I came to the Commission and everyone was endlessly patient with me – always willing to explain the smallest details and answer the silliest questions. Our supervisors stopped by my desk to say hello multiple times per day and I had the opportunity to build great relationships with the team here.

If you’re looking for an internship where you’re going to learn something new every day from great people who love what they’re doing, then COLA is the place for you.

Katie Gorski
I would highly recommend an internship with the Commission to anyone with interest in elder law. When I started my internship, I already had an understanding of the subject from my work at elder law firms in the northern Virginia area. Working with the Commission, I was able to see firsthand what it means to work on the policy side of the law.

I had the opportunity to attend to Commission meetings, where I was able to listen and take notes on a variety of topics relevant to elder law, and gain a firsthand experience of the policy-making process. I was also able to attend the Congressional reauthorization hearing for the Older Americans Act, which provided a window into the world of making legislation.

I also had the opportunity to work more closely with two of the Commission staff on more specific elder law topics. Under the supervision of Senior Attorney Lori Stiegel, I researched the changes to the state Adult Protective Services statutes. I also worked with Assistant Director Erica Wood on a larger project, researching guardianship and conservatorship bond statutes, creating a chart, and working on a paper summarizing those findings. The office atmosphere provides the perfect combination of independence and supervision, and everyone is always willing to answer questions. I really enjoyed this experience, and am truly thankful I was given this opportunity.

Karna Sandler
My semester at the Commission was a valuable learning experience in which I delved into the many legal issues facing older populations. It was a great way to get real world experience with guidance from attorneys with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area.

I had the opportunity to research guardianship health care decision-making and drafted an article to be published in Bifocal, the Commission’s ejournal. I was also able to attend Congressional hearings and two of the Commission’s meetings. These provided great networking opportunities and a chance to learn about the many career opportunities in elder law.

This internship provides an opportunity to learn what it is like to work in policy and to practice and improve research and writing skills. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in the area of elder law.

Candace Cliatt
Spending the semester as an extern for the Commission gave me a look into the issues that affect the senior population. Prior to my position as an intern, I did not know of all the challenges faced by seniors in trying to access basic human needs such as income and health care. I was also unaware of how the maltreatment of seniors affects not only those with advanced age, but bears upon us all.

I was amazed by how many opportunities I was given to witness the “real world” of Washington politics. In the first few weeks, I attended a Senate hearing and various briefings and meetings with government agencies. However, I must say that the most rewarding experience came when I was able to hear oral argument before the Supreme Court.

The in-office work proved to be just as fulfilling. I was responsible for interpreting and analyzing state statutes and researching case law in multiple jurisdictions. I also received the opportunity to submit an article to Bifocal. Furthermore, the entire staff was welcoming and helpful. The friendly office environment made it so I was never hesitant to ask questions nor intimidated to offer my opinion. The knowledge and experience I gained here at the Commission is truly invaluable. I would definitely recommend this experience to other law students!

Daniel Joslyn
After my experience this fall, I would definitely recommend an internship with the Commission on Law and Aging to any law students interested in pursuing a career in elder law. I had the opportunity to work  with attorney Erica Wood on original research in the field of adult guardianship, completing an extensive comparison of state statutes on the subject. Ms. Wood is a nationally recognized expert in this field and there was no better way to jump into the subject.

I also studied how the Affordable Care Act might affect the elderly, completing an article providing advice for consumers to avoid health care fraud. Through the Commission I had the opportunity to work directly with elder law experts from across the nation.

I also had a wide variety of exciting opportunities throughout the semester, viewing oral arguments at the Supreme Court, attending briefings at the U.S. Capitol, and participating in a forum at the Federal Trade Commission. Interning with the Commission opens a myriad of doors for any law student, and the experience was certainly a positive one.

Sarah Anderson
My summer with COLA was a terrific experience. I came into the internship with a basic understanding of elder law from my experience of working with senior clients with legal aid. COLA expanded my view of elder law by not only working on Commission projects, but by also sending me to many events all over Washington, DC, to learn how varied elder law can be. I attended Congressional hearings on senior nutrition, financial exploitation of the elderly, and end-of-life issues. I also attended panel discussions on Medicare and elder consumer fraud. My main project for the summer was a state-by-state analysis of durable power of attorney law. This project helped to improve my ability to read and interpret code and also helped me to understand the importance of nuances among what seemed to be similar statutes among the states. Lori Stiegel was my supervising attorney on this project and she couldn’t have been more helpful. She always had time to answer my questions and to just debate elder law and the issues surrounding elder abuse. Spending a summer with COLA is an invaluable experience for any law student.

Jenica Cassidy
I would strongly recommend that any law student with an interest in elder law apply for an internship with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. I spent my summer working under the guidance of the Commission’s elder law experts on a range of issues including restoration of rights in adult guardianships and end-of-life treatment. I attended numerous congressional committee hearings and elder law conferences and professional events where I learned about elder abuse issues and legislative efforts to support the elderly, and networked with industry professionals. I could not have asked for a better summer internship experience. Everyone at the Commission is extremely generous, kind, and dedicated to helping the interns succeed. I am truly thankful for the wonderful experience and time I spent here.