Rising 2L Advocates for Clients During Summer at Legal Aid Foundation of LA
Victoria Bonds '22 spent her summer at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as part of its Supporting Families department. Prior to her position, she interned at Mil Mujeres Legal Services and served as a paralegal at an immigration firm in Portland. This past year, Bonds was one of Loyola Law School's inaugural Make a Difference Day 1 Fellows, serving as a student advocate at Loyola Project for the Innocent. She plans to pursue a career in civil rights impact litigation.
Q: How did you land your summer job?
A: Assistant Dean for Employer Engagement, Graham Sherr helped me review my resume and cover letter and was able to connect me with distinguished alumni. I worked closely with Professor Aimee Dudovitz to revise my writing sample, and Professor Sande Buhai helped me decide what summer clerkship was right for me. I was selected for an interview through the Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day at UCLA I has heard about through Christine Zeimantz in Loyola's Public Interest Law Department. I knew I wanted to continue working in the public interest field over the summer.
Q: What is the most interesting part of your job?
A: One of the cases I worked on is the 1794 Jay’ Treaty case that allows certain Canadian born Native Americans to become US residents. I also drafted an amicus brief for a 9th Circuit case for a U-Visa denial appeal. Since immigration law is constantly changing and becoming more challenging, legal services are finding new ways to advocate for their clients.
Q: What has been your most challenging assignment?
A: It can be challenging to work with clientele that is entirely in crisis mode. My clients are mostly asylum seekers, survivors of human trafficking and victims of domestic violence. I have helped with intakes at immigration court and detention centers where potential clients have arrived in the United States within the past few months and are seeking asylum. The Legal Aid of Los Angeles is great about educating their clerks about second-hand trauma and providing resources.
Q: What new legal skill have you acquired during your summer job?
A: My summer job is furthering my legal research and writing skills. I am learning to spot potential issues in immigration cases and determine the appropriate solutions. I also get to practice my legal Spanish.
Q: What bit of legal knowledge have you been able to display?
A: Loyola has given me the skills needed to succeed in my first summer clerk position. In addition to my academic experience, I can draw on the skills I learned at Loyola Project for the Innocent. Adam Grant, Program Director and Paula, Legal Director taught me how to interview witnesses, draft declarations and analyze cases. Moreover, they strengthened my ability to effectively work with clients who have been through traumatic experiences and who may be from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Also, Professor Aimee Dudovitz's legal writing course tremendously improved my legal writing and research abilities. Professor Simona Grossi's civil procedure course provided me with a foundation for understanding complex immigration procedural issues.
Q: How has Loyola helped you map your career?
A: The strong presence that public interest has on campus was one of the main reasons I chose to attend Loyola Law School. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in a clinic and that I will be in the Civil Rights Litigation Practicum this fall. Through networking events put on by clubs like Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) and La Raza de Loyola, I have been able to connect with alumni who are civil rights impact litigators, which is my dream job. I have felt nothing but support from the law school’s faculty, students and alumni. Everyone I have spoken to has been encouraging and offered amazing advice about how to succeed in the public interest field.