ALSC’s September Volunteers of the Month are Stephanie Garlock and Catherine Xu! Stephanie and Catherine did a tremendous job over the summer serving as legal interns in the Anchorage ALSC office. Read on for our interview with Stephanie and Catherine about their time volunteering with ALSC:
Why did you choose to volunteer with ALSC?
Stephanie: I chose to volunteer with ALSC this summer because I wanted the chance to work on a wide range of legal issues facing low income communities–particularly housing and family law. I was especially excited about the chance to both work directly with individual clients and contribute to ongoing, high-impact cases.
Catherine: Going into my last year of college, I was still unsure about what I wanted to do with my life after graduation, but I knew I wanted to do meaningful work for marginalized communities, especially those who have faced a lot of historical, systemic trauma such as many Alaska Native populations. Then, last spring, I read about a case Jim Davis (ALSC’s statewide litigation attorney) had worked on through his other organization, and I was inspired by the creative way he was using the law to defend Yu’pik hunters’ rights to fish. I reached out to Jim directly to see if there’s any way I could learn more about this kind of work, and two months later I moved up to Anchorage to do just that with ALSC!
What are some of your experiences at ALSC that have made a positive difference in the lives of others and/or the community?
Stephanie: My favorite experience at ALSC this summer has been working to help prepare briefing on some of ALSC’s major impact cases. I’ve loved the chance to help push for major reforms that I know will benefit Alaskan children and families. What’s the most unique about doing this work at ALSC is that, throughout the summer, I’ve also worked with individual clients who would see the benefits of these cases. As a law student, the chance to see that potential impact first-hand was incredibly inspiring.
Catherine: One of the best moments for me was when we were able to help a client get her brother, who had been stuck in a locked psychiatric facility that was clearly not good for him, out of the facility and into her home. The joy and relief our client, her brother, and everyone involved with the case felt after the decision was announced made all the stressful hours spent working on it 100% worth it.
How do you think your experiences with ALSC will benefit you in the future?
Stephanie: The part of my summer at ALSC that will benefit me the most going forward was the chance to work with such smart and dedicated lawyers. I loved talking with the attorneys at ALSC about the clients that they serve, and the work that they do. And I especially loved that my ALSC supervisor gave me the chance to contribute directly to this work. I was given the opportunity to meet with clients, conduct legal research, and draft parts of briefs for filing in court. As an aspiring public interest lawyer, working on so many different parts of the legal process was an incredibly valuable experience.
Catherine: After this summer, I definitely have a clearer sense of what it’s like to work as a public interest lawyer beyond what I ever could have gained in a classroom setting. Moreover, being in Alaska and working with the truly lovely folks at ALSC has given me a chance to disengage from the classic summer internship grind and better understand the things that are most important to me, and that I’ll prioritize when building my future career: fulfilling work, time for friends and family, and great co-workers to collaborate with!