The 19th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held on February 10 at the Law School. Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer. Meghan Refinski, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.
Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?
This past summer I served as a law clerk at the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian.
What kind of work did you do there?
In my role there, I advocated for children who had been abused or neglected by their parents. This included client interviews (both in the community and in the office), drafting pre-trial motions, researching case law in preparation for an appeal, and standing up in court for permanency hearings.
How was the experience meaningful to you?
This experience was meaningful to me for several reasons, in particular the strong relationships I developed with my clients and the opportunity to advocate for one of society’s most vulnerable populations.
What did you learn in the course of your work?
Legally, I was able to enhance and develop my trial skills by appearing on record before the court, and specifically, the importance of laying a good foundation and preserving the record for an appeal. I also developed my client interviewing skills by working with children of various ages, races, and sexual orientations. Personally, I also learned the importance of collaborating with colleagues when faced with unfamiliar or emotionally-charged issues. When the summer was over, this experience affirmed my desire to work with children after graduation.
What do you like best about doing public interest law work?
I came to know the children behind the case number, which only strengthened my commitment to ensuring that the court kept their best interests at heart. This personal connection is what I like best about public interest work—the opportunity to make such a long-lasting and powerful impact on an individual’s life. So that at the end of the day, I can go home and feel that maybe, just maybe, I used my gifts and talents to help improve the life of another.
What are you doing to help with the PILS Auction?
This year, I am co-president of the Public Interest Law Society. In this role, I have collaborated with our Do-Gooders’ Auction committee to create an event that we hope will be both profitable and enjoyable. We look forward to bringing the auction to Eckstein Hall and supporting our students’ interest in and commitment to public interest law.