Summer Work Experience - Realizing My Goals

09-29-17

By Erika Bertelsen, 2L

This summer I worked as a law clerk at Rainbow Services, Ltd. (Rainbow), a full-service, intersectional domestic violence center in Los Angeles County.

I initially applied for a position at Rainbow during Public Interest Career Day because women’s equality and domestic violence advocacy are extremely important to me, and I was hoping to expand my knowledge of domestic violence law. At the time I was unsure of exactly what field of law I wanted to go into – I just knew that I wanted to advocate for women’s rights. Working at Rainbow helped me realize that domestic violence policy and reproductive justice reform are my two true legal passions. Without working at Rainbow, I would not be as aware of my professional goals.

In addition to domestic violence restraining orders, the legal department at Rainbow handles an array of family law and immigration needs for the center’s participants. The Director of Legal Services, Marci Fukuroda, is also extremely active in the Los Angeles Domestic Violence Task Force, and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. As such, my summer internship at Rainbow granted me the ability to work on DVRO’s, Violence Against Women Act self-petitions, DACA applications, U-Visa petitions, divorces, custody arrangements, and paternity cases. Additionally, I conducted research for the CA Partnership regarding the effects of bail reform on domestic violence offenses. This was a more expansive set of direct services than I had previously experienced, but the pro-bono projects I worked on as a 1L at UCI prepared me to compassionately and assertively address my client’s needs.

My summer experience at Rainbow was so rewarding that I opted to remain working there part-time as an extern during the fall 2017 semester. This has allowed me to continue to work on my client’s ongoing immigration and divorce cases, and to expand my bail reform research for the CA Partnership. I believe the stability that I have been able to offer my clients by remaining on their cases has been extremely valuable, and has led to a stronger professional relationship. As a future attorney, I want to make sure that my clients can rely on me to see them through to the end. I have also arranged for Marci Fukuroda to lead a Domestic Violence panel at UCI this fall in order to forge a stronger relationship between Rainbow and UCI Law. My work at Rainbow has been invaluable, and I am excited to continue and expand my work with the organization.