The Experience of an ICJ Intern
The Institute for Compassion in Justice, ICJ, is a non-profit law firm that specializes in youth advocacy and education law. I started working for ICJ the summer after my first year of law school at the University of Kentucky College of Law. At ICJ we help youth aged 0-25 with any legal services that they need. We take many different types of cases like civil rights cases, criminal cases, education cases, etc. ICJ also participates in lobbying activities in the state of Kentucky. On my first day, I had the opportunity to meet with a state legislator and to be a part of the lobbying process.
At the beginning of the summer me and the other law clerks were given particularized assignments that involved our certain area of interests. For me that meant working on an immigration case and a constitutional law case. I was also given other tasks to complete that did not involve cases, like organizing our table at a Father’s Day event, and helping with the planning of our big fundraising event, the cat’s tale. Another awesome experience that I had the opportunity to take part in was the Lexington Day Treatment Center’s graduation ceremony.
The Lexington Day Treatment Center is a school for children who have had disciplinary incidents at their previous home schools. Being from Lexington I had no idea that this school existed. No one talked about it when I attended Tates Creek High School. When I first heard about the graduation I was confused about why I was going. I thought that it would be just like any other graduation with nothing special to see. I was very wrong.
When I walked in the atmosphere was very light with excited anticipation. Everyone was ecstatic and there was a level of pride that I had never seen before. When the ceremony began I instantly knew that every teacher and faculty member knew all the children personally. They talked about the students individually; even the janitor could talk about his experiences with
these kids. This was something I was not used to. I like to skate by and go unnoticed in most situations and I had never made the close relationships with my teachers that these kids had with theirs. I think that is why this program is so successful. The kids don’t see this school as a punishment for the things they had done in the past. The teachers care about them and not just their state testing scores. The Lexington Day Treatment Center is a safe place where the children can break free from their past and just be kids. Most schools only see kids through what their records say. They don’t take the time to get to know them. If they have a bad record they are automatically labeled a bad kid, which in my opinion is part of the reason that children continue to have behavioral problems. Watching the ceremony made me proud to live in a community that has programs like this because it means that kids are finally being listened to and understood in a way that I had never seen. It means that kids are more than their pasts and as human beings with a purpose.
By: Shelby Osborne
University of Kentucky College of Law, J.D. Candidate, 2019
ICJ Law Clerk