Learning Law, Helping Citizens
Harpur Law Council Public Interest Law Intern Program
Senior Jennifer Rosen's summer internship may have changed the course of her life.
As a prelaw student, Rosen was considering corporate law. But this past summer, the Harpur Law Council Public Interest Law Intern Program landed her at the New York State Attorney General's office, where she had real impact on people's lives.
"It was so amazing to do something worthwhile and in the public interest," she says. "Not only was I learning a lot about the law and a lot from lawyers, but I was helping the citizens. I loved working there so much that I would definitely consider going back at some point in my life."
The program is supported with funds raised by the Harpur Law Council, which believes that students need to be exposed to public law because fewer and fewer lawyers are going into the field.
Richard Greenberg '74, attorney-in-charge at the Office of the Appellate Defender, hosted an intern in his New York City office, which is set up to train lawyers for public law. He's had college interns in the past, but they usually weren't that helpful because the supervisory resources needed to train them were too big of a drain.
"But the Harpur Law Council internship makes more sense because these are prelaw students," he says. "So we look for projects that will be helpful to our office and to our clients and at the same time will give that intern some meaningful, substantive work to do and give them a glimpse of what it would be like in a criminal practice or appellate practice in a nonprofit, public-interest law firm."
Binghamton University senior Peter Fountain spent his summer working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation drafting consent orders, sitting in on hearings, researching enforcement issues and handing out notices of violation — rare experiences for an under- graduate.
"I expected to find out for the first time what a lawyer would do from 9 to 5 and I certainly got that experience," he says. "I got a good view of the day-to-day activities of the attorney I worked under. My experiences this summer, even in such a short time, really affirmed my desire to go to law school."
Building a Network
NEW YORK CITY EMPLOYER VISITS
According to career experts, companies fill the vast majority of jobs, up to 80 percent, by tapping into a "hidden" job market, made up of a network of friends, associates and acquaintances. Because so many positions are filled by the "who do you know" method of recruitment and do not appear in advertisements, learning how to find them is an essential skill — especially in today's challenging market where unemployment among people under 25 is nearly 20 percent.
To give current Binghamton University students a job-hunting edge, the Career Development Center (CDC), the School of Management and the Alumni Association teamed up with 20 alumni to create the New York City Employer Visit Program.
With support from donors to the Binghamton University Foundation, alumni in a variety of fields, such as investment banking, media, law and real estate, invite students to their job sites for question-and-answer sessions and tours, thereby giving students exposure to the real-world hiring process and a head start on building their career networks. Visits have taken place at Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, MSG Media and NBC Universal.
Cristin Singer '96, a partner at the accounting firm McGladrey & Pullen, says the program helps her company with recruiting.
"We place tremendous value on the employer visit program and the early opportunity it provides to network with high-performing students," Singer says. "The program also greatly assists students with their job search process, as it allows them to gain valuable insight into prospective employers and really experience the culture of these organizations firsthand."
Bill McCarthy, CDC associate director, encourages students to take the next step forward after the visits by staying in touch with alumni.
"This program is all about building and maximizing relationships between students and alumni," McCarthy says. "We always tell students to be proactive in building their networks. It's never too early to get started, and, as they progress in their careers, they will find that networking is a lifelong process."
Getting Youth the Help They Need
Services for Binghamton Families and Children
"Years ago it wasn't expected that all youths would graduate from high school," Laura Bronstein says. "Now that is the goal."
In recent decades, though, social problems have been intensifying while families and children's needs have become more complex, creating challenges for financially strapped public schools to keep youths focused on their education.
To identify where children and their families need help, Bronstein, chair of the Department of Social Work in the College of Community and Public Affairs, has collaborated with Elizabeth Anderson, assistant professor in the School of Education, to look across the disciplines of education, nursing and social work.
The two used their findings from a needs assessment funded with grants from the Binghamton University Research Foundation and the United Way to land a $52,000 Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation grant, which launched the Building Accessible Interdisciplinary Services for Binghamton Families and Children program in fall 2008.
Operating through spring 2010, the program placed a social-work graduate student and a nurse-practitioner student in each of two Binghamton city schools to work closely with staff, students and families in identifying issues that disrupt education.
"A referral from someone in the school would lead to a comprehensive health screening because there might be underlying health issues impeding education," Anderson says. "Based on that, a psychosocial history might be done by the social work intern. The team would then pull together to look at the child holistically."
"Our goal was to look at the whole child, the whole family, the whole school — to look at the context and see what the issues are that are impeding children's success and to address them, whether they're academic, physical health, mental health, psychosocial or a combination thereof," Bronstein says.
The success of the program helped lead to a $5.6 million federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant awarded to Broome-Tioga BOCES, which includes subcontracts to Lourdes Hospital Youth Services and to the Center for Best Practices in Full-Service Community Schools at the Institute for Intergenerational Studies at Binghamton University. The institute was developed in 2009 to further the work begun by Bronstein and Anderson. The Safe Schools grant, called S.H.A.R.E. (Safe, Healthy Attitudes Require Education), serves 28,000 children in 53 schools throughout 10 Broome County school districts.