Schroeder ’15 Gets Feet Wet in Law with Career Test Drive

By Jackson Schroeder ’15

As part of the Career Services Test Drive Program, I spent a week at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville during winter break.  The Legal Aid Society provides free legal services to people who fall below the poverty line.

During the week, I spent the majority of the time calling previous clients and asking them to complete a client satisfaction survey.  Yearly client satisfaction are done to show the donors of Legal Aid that the practicing attorneys are doing their job and completely satisfying the people.

When I wasn’t doing client satisfaction surveys, I was at the courthouse shadowing the attorneys of the Legal Aid Society.  The first time I went to court was an eye opening experience because the attorney had three domestic violence cases.  While prepping the clients to enter the courtroom, the attorney had to make sure they were ready to answer the judge’s questions clearly and truthfully.  The clients were visibly upset by the fact that they were seeing their alleged attackers for the first time since the incident.

Two of the three cases were continued to a later date with the final case culminating with exciting closing arguments by the two attorneys.  After the Legal Aid attorney won her case and got a domestic violence order against the client’s husband, she told me how the case was very unusual.  In the beginning part of the hearing, the opponent’s attorney was very argumentative and angry with the judge.  I was very surprised by his actions and was later told that he could have gotten a contempt of court charge if he continued in his disruptive manner.  Overall, I was impressed by the attorney’s ability to think on the spot and make solid arguments for her clients.

On my second visit to court, I was able to witness Veteran’s Court, which is a new venture by the state of Kentucky.  The purpose of Veteran’s Court is to make veterans enter a program meant to rehabilitate rather than punish.  As part of the program, the veterans do not spend jail time but have random drug tests and see a psychologist to help treat their PTSD.  The court is structured to provide support to the members who often have unsupportive families or families who do not understand what they have been through.  During the weekly meetings, the judge makes sure to act as a friend and supporter who want to see them succeed.

On my third and final visit to court, I visited Evictions Court.  Prior to entering the courtroom, I was told that Evictions Court is like the fast food of law because each case takes about 10 seconds.  The attorney for the landlord calls the name of the person getting evicted and if they are there, then they come up to face the judge.  The judge asks if a payment was made.  If not, the judge signs the eviction form and the next name is called.  The only arguments against getting evicted are if you have receipts proving you paid or if the landlord did not maintain the housing while one was living there.

Overall, I learned a lot about the Legal Aid Society functions as well as the general court process in domestic violence, veteran, and eviction cases.  The weeklong internship has furthered my interest in law and opportunities to help others within the field of law.  I am especially grateful to Jeff Been for allowing Wabash students to gain experience in the field of public law and also the hospitality he provided.