My Experience as a Summer Intern

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By: Royal Newman, IIIRoyal&Scooter

Working with Disability Independence Group Inc. (DIG) this summer exposed me to entirely new communities. Not only was I given the chance to see and participate in the internal workings of a law firm as they prepared for court, I was also able to interact with clients and partake in depositions. On multiple occasions, DIG provided opportunities to visit the courthouses. Everyone working with DIG went out of their way to help myself and the other interns understand and the concepts and work that went into each case at each step. But the most interesting community I was exposed to was the disabled community.

On my first day at DIG, I was handed a 1550 page document and told it was the first case of its kind. After working on my assignment for some time, Matt met with me and explained to me what he wanted my work to produce and I practically restarted. While working on that assignment, I was still able to work for some of the other clients as well. One of my favorite clients had obtained DIG’s services in hopes to be reunited with her emotional support sheep, Dora. After working directly with this client I was able to accompany Matt to a deposition of an opposing witness. During the break I was asked questions, almost as if answering an oral exam. Why did I ask this? Where am I going with that question? Why does that matter? It was great hands on experience and an opportunity to learn how to plan depositions and arguments. The friendly and outgoing staff made my time with DIG more enjoyable and beneficial. The DIG office is a work family; we took group pictures, went to group lunches, and even had a pizza and ice cream day. The comfortable and friendly environment allowed for more interaction and better quality education.

One of the fun parts about legal education is being exposed to so many different people, entities, and communities. This summer I was exposed to the disabled community. I learned so much more than I thought there was to learn about the deaf community. It was surprising to see how hard it is for the deaf to communicate without a translator. By talking with the staff and reading case materials, I learned a lot about the deaf community. Then I was able to partake in the intake process for a deaf client and interact directly with her. It was like nothing I had ever done before. Watching the client sign and get passionate about her case and hearing the translator providing her a voice to match her passion was incredible. Another 20 pages would not justly describe the experience of working with DIG this summer.

Thank y’all for helping me on the path to success, and for helping all those that you help.

DIG Internship Progam

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DIG has established a successful internship program for both undergraduate students and law students at our local universities. This past semester we hosted two interns. Tiffany Blackmon, from FIU College of Law, assisted with federal litigation, helped us establish our ADA Mediation Project. We file complaints on behalf of persons with disabilities who have been discriminated against with the Department of Justice. These complaints are sent to a mediator who attempts to resolve the case without litigation. This is an exciting new project for DIG and we will be expanding it this summer with our new class of summer interns. Our second intern was Samantha Belabin from the University of Miami, School of Education. She was a tremendous asset to us this spring semester and worked on many projects, with a particular interest in the area of autism. This summer 19 law students have applied to our summer internship project and we will be selecting three to work with us this summer on a variety of issues. They will be researching new legislation both State and Federal that pertains to the rights of person with disabilities, create a white paper on emergency preparedness and how persons with disabilities can best access those services and identify gaps or barriers that may exist. They will also work on several significant cases that DIG is litigating. Interns bring not only talent to our program but also expertise we may not have, hands on assistance in many areas and they are a lot of fun to have around the office. We thank Tiffany and Samantha for all they have done for the folks we serve and look forward to welcoming our new interns this May.

Matt Dietz standing with Tiffany Blackmon, our intern this spring.       Samantha Belabin and Debbie Dietz