Harpur Featured Stories
By Eric Coker
For Susan Dolcemascolo, taking part in the Harpur Law Council Public Interest Law Internship was a life-changing experience.
"It's an opportunity that I don't think I would've had anywhere else," said Dolcemascolo, a 21-year-old senior from Brooklyn. "I'm grateful that there are programs like this. That will always make Binghamton University special to me."
Dolcemascolo was one of five Harpur College students chosen for the summer 2012 program. The internship gives juniors and seniors the opportunity to experience and learn about law in the public sector and make connections with professional attorneys, including those on the Harpur Law Council and other Binghamton University law alumni.
The four others receiving internships were:
The Harpur Law Council internship enables students to work eight to 10 weeks during the summer at one of five designated sites. Selected students (who must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher) receive a stipend of up to $2,500 and one academic credit.
Dolcemascolo said she may not have even applied for the internship if she had not attended a class called Current Issues in Legal Practice during Winter Session 2012. The class, held in Manhattan, featured nine lawyers—all Binghamton University alumni—speaking to students about a wide variety of legal topics.
"Something hit me when I heard all of the attorneys talking," said Dolcemascolo, a psychology major and Spanish minor who had always been intrigued by law. "Meeting people from Binghamton University who are in different areas (of law) and enjoy their jobs really opened my mind. Everything they spoke about seemed interesting to me. The class inspired me and made me realize that I just have to jump in."
Dolcemascolo spent the summer of 2012 at the Waterfront Commission of NY Harbor, where she did a variety of work that included drafting memos, ordering court and police reports and conducting research.
At Legal Services NYC-Bronx, Skarupski had the opportunity to work for alum Nelson Mar '94, who serves as senior staff attorney at the site.
"He was very friendly," said Skarupski, who worked in education the law unit. "
Sometimes when we were on the subway traveling to hearings, he'd ask: 'What's Binghamton like now? What new things are there?' He thought the internship program was great."
Chizner said she remains in contact with Richard Greenberg '74, a Harpur College alum who is attorney-in-charge at the Office of the Appellate Defender. Greenberg has offered advice about law school and law careers, she said.
"He's been a great mentor to me," Chizner said.
The students said that although they were the only undergraduate law interns in their respective offices, they benefitted from being around law-school interns.
"They would give me tidbits of advice every day," Skarupski said. "They were a great resource."
All five interns—who will be featured this spring on the Harpur College Wall of Excellence on the first floor of the Library Tower—also urged younger Harpur College students interested in law to take advantage of the opportunity.
"Undergraduate law internships are few and far between," Schwartz said. "This gives you a good understanding of what a lawyer does."
"It is a great opportunity to gain experience in the field of public interest, which is an area that many law schools seem to place an emphasis on," Burke said.
"The opportunity is unique," Chizner said. "Having a law internship and interning at a law office are different. If people have it on their résumé as an undergraduate, they've usually interned at the law firm of a parent's friend. The point of this is to give us hands-on experience. It's great because you just can't get the information any other way. It's not the same."
The summer experience and later interactions with her fellow interns have given Dolcemascolo the needed confidence to pursue law school and a career in law, she said.
"Everyone at my agency said they had never heard of a pre-law internship," she said. "This is a one-of-a kind internship. You have to throw yourself into the opportunity, regardless of whether you'll get it or not. Just be confident in the person you are and hope that it will shine through."
For more on the internship, including application materials, visit the Harpur College Law Council website.
Last Updated: 3/27/13