Reflections From 2023 Bill Grimm Memorial Summer Law & Policy Clerks
The National Center for Youth Law works with and learns alongside brilliant law and policy students each summer. We asked members of the 2023 cohort of Bill Grimm Memorial Summer Law & Policy Clerks to reflect on their summers.
Policy Clerk, Youth Justice Initiative
Law Clerk, Legal Advocacy Team
Law Clerk, Reproductive Health Education Project for Foster Youth
What was the highlight of your summer at the National Center for Youth Law?
DO: The weekly Summer Seminar series allowed me to ask questions and hear advice from public interest lawyers and policy advocates from around the country. The National Center for Youth Law did an amazing job of creating opportunities for clerks to interact with staff on every team.
JJ: Prior to the National Center for Youth Law, I had never been in a space where everyone works together on social issues. Every day felt incredible to work with people who are passionate about the same issues as I am.
NS: I contributed to the National Center for Youth Law's cross-team research on the current "Parents' Bill of Rights" movement. I am grateful that my research can help teams track and respond to new legislation that threatens young people's privacy and autonomy.
What was the most important thing you learned?
DO: The path to public interest work varies widely. There is huge variation in the roles and career you can take to work successfully in this space. Taking care of yourself in this line of work is important since you care deeply about the people and causes you’re helping.
JJ: Acknowledge and be proud of your victories no matter how small they might appear. Litigation and public interest work are long battles, but even small gains grow into huge societal change over time. The staff at NCYL always looked at the positives, and that is a lesson I keep with me as I continue to pursue public interest work.
NS: Confusing and vague legislative language can limit young people's access to health care services by making health care providers unsure about what services they can provide minors — especially when new laws carry high penalties for providers who violate the rules.
How has your time at the National Center for Youth Law influenced your future plans?
DO: I am more confident in taking a gap year before any additional schooling. I can explore what niche of public interest work is best for me.
JJ: Before my summer at the National Center for Youth Law, I knew I wanted to do public interest work, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into litigation. However, my time here solidified my desire to do impact litigation after I graduate from law school.
NS: I have been using what I learned about the youth space to enhance discussions in my law school classes about health care, reproductive rights, and privacy. This experience confirmed my choice to pursue advocacy and pro-bono work.