Works and Days

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"legal"


Gregory Forman Family Law, Reed Externship Program, Aliana Knoepfler

Aliana Knoepfler, sophomore psychology major, participated in the Reed externship program. She spent her spring break learning hands-on about family law in Charleston, South Carolina.

This spring break I externed with family law attorney Gregory Forman in Charleston, South Carolina. Going into the externship, I was not sure what to expect as I knew very little about family law but was nevertheless very interested in learning as much as I could. I was specifically interested in what day-to-day life is like for a lawyer.

For a week, I observed Mr. Forman meet with clients, review documents, attend mediation, visit court and more. I was surprised to learn such a great deal about family law and also discover how interesting it is and how greatly it differs from other areas of law. In addition to learning about family law, I was also interested in learning more about law in general. Before this externship, I did not know about the option of becoming a sole practitioner rather than working at a law firm. I was able to learn that there are benefits to being a sole practitioner, such as more control over one’s career as well as more flexibility.

Winter Externship with New Mexico Legal Aid

This January, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at New Mexico Legal Aid in Santa Fe. Hosted by alumna Amy Propps ’91, my time at NMLA was probably a bit of a crash-course in the legal aid world. My five days with New Mexico Legal Aid can be best described as a game of question and answer. New Mexico Legal Aid is a statewide public interest legal aid firm that provides free legal services for low-income people and communities throughout the state. Through their various branches located in various cities, they specialize in various types of civil law ranging from family law to property and housing to employment to everything else in between. Just from my short time there, I was able to gain a first hand look into the vast world of legal aid and into the mechanics of exactly what it is that attorneys actually get to do.

When I arrived in Santa Fe, I really had no idea what to expect—either from New Mexico itself or from my time at NMLA. My first time in New Mexico, I admittedly did not know very much about the state’s rich history (nor did I really understand how cold it gets during the winter months). I did, however, know a fair bit about law and the world of public interest law practice. What I didn’t fully know was exactly how diverse, complex, and complicated public interest law could be. Of course, when I got on the plane from Baltimore to Santa Fe, I had had a few hopes and expectations for my externship experience. Having had the longtime goal of attending law school and eventually going on to practice public interest law, the main thing that I wanted to gain from my time at NMLA was a comprehensive look into exactly what the world of public interest law looks like, what sorts of work I could potentially expect to do as an attorney later on, and what sorts of steps I could take to prepare for a life in this field.

When I first arrived in Santa Fe (about two hours later than I had originally planned due to one horrible windstorm over the Midwest and one delayed flight coming from Dallas), Amy and my host, Callie Dendrinos, were waiting for me at the tiny airport. From the get-go Amy and Callie were showing me around and filling me in on New Mexican history and culture.