Political Science and Spanish Double Major
This summer, Rachael Morrissey had an internship with Prairie State Legal
Services in Peoria, Illinois. As an intern, she was assigned to an attorney to
assist with legal research. She wrote memorandums, accompanied the attorney
to court, sat in on client meetings, and filed documents at the courthouse.
Describe your day-to-day experiences.
I worked at Prairie State Legal Services three days a week. When I wasn't at court or sitting in on client meetings, I would do legal research for a particular topic assigned to me by the attorney, or work on assigned Social Security disability cases. Thursdays were dedicated to staff meetings that would typically last about three hours. Each case was taken under consideration and thoroughly discussed to see if it had merit. If they were discussing a case that I had done research on, I would be able to participate in the discussion.
How did your experiences at Knox help you in the internship?
My first year at Knox taught me a lot about thinking on my feet, feeling confident researching topics, and participating in something that was new and challenging.
For example, one of my first assignments was to write a memo on the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect the demographic of Prairie State's clients beginning in January 2014. I was also asked to research and write a legal memo about the new Firearm Concealed Carry bill recently signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn in Illinois and what policy Prairie State could adopt about concealed carry weapons on their premises.
Oftentimes throughout the summer, I would be asked to review a client's medical file in order to investigate his or her Social Security insurance claim, and I worked with the other interns to create an Excel spreadsheet and system for going through the medical files efficiently. The research, study habits, and methods I learned at Knox really helped with the memorandums and other tasks I was assigned.
How did you benefit from this internship?
This internship put me in touch with the "outside" world and a business office setting. I want to go to law school when I graduate from Knox and ultimately help people navigate what can be a complex legal system. In my first year, Professor Lane Sunderland once told us that people who come to lawyers genuinely need help in some aspect of their lives, and to be able to provide legal services to those who need them but cannot afford them would be extremely rewarding for me. I have had enormous respect for the law and the legal system in the U.S. since I was a child. I have wanted to pursue law for a very long time, and choosing to attend Knox was one of the first steps in helping me plan for a rewarding career.