Discovering Pro Bono Work
First-year student Jordan Buller-Doll explored her interests in writing, policy making, and the legal system in her first winter term as an intern working for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
Buller-Doll worked with the communications and development department, where she was involved in research, writing case summaries, and managing a database to track donors, attorneys, and clients.
Legal Aid is a nonprofit organization that provides pro bono attorneys for civil cases. Founded in 1905, Legal Aid of Cleveland it is the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the United States. Clients are low-income and disadvantaged, and have no other means of pursuing their cases. Legal Aid provides advice and representation in the areas of consumer rights, domestic violence, education, employment, family law, health, housing, foreclosure, immigration, public benefits, utilities, and tax.
“The most rewarding part of my internship with Legal Aid is learning about the firm’s work,” says Buller-Doll, a native Clevelander. “I wrote up about 15 case summaries and talked to the case's attorneys. What struck me in every case is the difficulty of navigating the legal system. If you can't afford legal representation, many low-income individuals—many who need government assistance the most— would be stranded in bureaucracy and government rules. Many Legal Aid clients are in danger of losing their home or government benefits, which provide for basics like food and shelter.”
On campus, Buller-Doll is chair of Oberlin’s Public Interest Research Group (OhioPIRG), a student organization that works to solve issues involving environmental protection, consumer protection, hunger, and homelessness. She says the internship sparked a curiosity in systematic solutions. “Legal Aid is usually a solution of last resort and can only work for their individual clients. I would be interested in studying wider policy change to curb these issues closer to the source. This internship also reminded me how much I enjoyed journalistic writing, which I want to find a way to study back on campus.”