Associates Reflect on Summer at LSSP

As our summer clerks and interns prepare to return to school, we asked them to share about their experiences with LSSP over the summer. We’re sad to see them go and are so grateful for the great work they did.

Daniel Betkoski Daniel Betkoski
Charlotte School of Law, Veterans Legal Services Clerk
Daniel enjoyed interacting with clients and learning about a new area of law. As someone who wishes to join the U.S. Army JAG Corps, he was happy to work on cases dealing with veteran issues. He is most proud of a case he has been working on for a while, for which he has done research, interviewed the client multiple times, and drafted an upgrade discharge request. LSSP has helped Daniel grow by helping him improve his research and writing skills, which he recognizes he will need to be a great attorney in the future.

“Everyone at LSSP has been extremely helpful and friendly, which has made me feel like an equal and not just an intern.”

Erin Daugherty
Notre Dame School of Law, Family Support & Health Care Clerk
Beyond relaErin Daughertytionship-building and learning about a new area of law, Erin says she has become more confident in her ability to communicate directly with clients while remaining cognizant of when seek for help. She appreciates the necessary balance between confidence and humility. Erin is most proud of her work on a case that provided Medicaid to a disabled man and on many cases that provided people the proper allotment of food stamps. In particular, Erin reflected on a case in which a woman’s food stamp allotment was increased by about $40 – a seemingly nominal amount, but for the woman, it was the difference between eating or being hungry for the week.

“I moved to Charlotte specifically to work at LSSP without any family or friends in the area,” Erin says. “At the beginning it was difficult being so far from those closest to me but everyone at LSSP was so welcoming and caring that it made my transition a wonderful experience. Overall, this experience has given me perspective into the life of others as well as my own.”

Josh Martinkovic
UNC School of Law, McMillan Fellow and Consumer Protection Clerk
Josh MartinkovicJosh says that LSSP has helped him grow as a writer and researcher. Some of the cases he worked on were complex and required him to be resourceful in finding answers. He recognizes that without LSSP attorneys, many people don’t have viable legal options, and he hopes that his work has made someone’s life a little easier. Josh shared that he is most proud of the feedback he has received from co-workers and clients on his client interaction. They have complimented him for treating clients with respect and for showing them how he and LSSP care about their problems, which he thinks is especially important for working with low-income clients.

“My favorite part of the experience was learning the mechanics of being an attorney. Law school teaches you how to think like an attorney, but we do not have many opportunities for gaining practical experience in a subject area that interests us.”

Savannah Peters
UNC Chapel Hill, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Nonprofit Intern
Savannah PetersSavannah has loved interning with LSSP. She plans to attend law school and has a special interest in non-profit work, so it has been the perfect opportunity. Savannah particularly enjoyed gaining exposure to a large variety of projects and activities – from planning a tour of appreciation at various law firms, to attending a Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day event in Raleigh. She is probably most proud of having written her first-ever grant report. Savannah says LSSP has helped her improve her communication and research skills and gain experience interacting with the legal community.

“Everyone, especially the development team, at LSSP has given me the most welcoming and enriching summer experience. I’m happy to have given even a small amount to such an amazing organization, and I’m leaving with an even better knowledge of what my future entails.”

Shila Richard
Charlotte School of Law, McMillan Fellow and Family Support & Health Care Clerk
Shila RichardShila’s favorite part of working with LSSP this summer was working closely with her supervising attorney, Gretchen Caldwell, and having her own clients. She says Gretchen and her clients made her feel like her work ethic was appreciated – like she finally belonged and contributed to helping those in need. Shila shared that it was a challenge to learn about all of the Medicaid and Social Security rules, but the staff made it a great experience. Her proudest accomplishment was being able to represent her client at his Medicaid for Aged and Disabled state hearing after much preparation. She fondly remembers finding an encouraging sticky note at her desk after telling a fellow clerk that she was nervous about the hearing.

“LSSP has played a huge role in shaping my perspective, personal development, and future goals,” Shila says. “Being here has taught me that you can be the change, you can be someone’s voice, and you can be who you are while doing so. I have always been very passionate about public interest work and issues, but having the chance to really learn more and work with the clients was a major benefit.”

Nick Torres
Furman University, Courthouse Volunteer
Nick says he had no clue what to expect before beginning, since working in the court house every day is a job that you cannot study for. He expressed that Kathryn Coiner-Collier, his supervisor, provided care and support that have been a huge help, making the summer an incredible opportunity and experience that he would recommend a thousand times. Nick says he recognized how fortunate he is before the summer, but LSSP has shown him what an honor it is to serve others.

“I am very proud of the fact that for the first time respondents don’t feel like they are stepping into a trap, due to the caring and friendly face that Kat and I provide – they know that this is a safe space. The fear that people feel when they arrive to court is a fear that I hope many will never have to experience in their lives.”

LSSP was honored to have two James B. McMillan Legal fellows work join us this summer. Shila Richard, of Charlotte School of Law, served as a Family Support & Healthcare clerk, and Josh Martinkovic, of UNC School of Law, served as a Consumer Protection clerk. Established by the Mecklenburg County Bar in 1995 to honor the memory of U.S. District Judge James B. McMillan, the fund awards fellowships to law students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest service and seek career opportunities with nonprofit or governmental agencies in Mecklenburg County. LSSP is one of 16 agencies participating in the program.

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