Summer Experiences: Rising 3L Zoe Psiakis, Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow, Pine Tree Legal Assistance
Rising 3L Zoe Psiakis was selected by Equal Justice Works for a highly competitive 2021 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellowship. Psiakis worked at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in rural Aroostook County, Maine.
How did you connect with this summer opportunity?
I applied to the Rural Summer Legal Corps program hosted by Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation. Pine Tree was my first-choice host site, and I am grateful that they selected me for this position!
How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?
I knew coming in that I wanted to do public interest work in a rural setting, ideally in Maine. Pine Tree is a statewide organization, so I was able to meet attorneys in different practice areas all across Maine that helped me to further hone my future goals.
Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.
On any given day I could be found drafting and filing documents, visiting clients’ homes to assess housing conditions, providing full representation in hearings, preparing for trials, negotiating settlements with opposing counsel, planning and conducting outreach clinics, serving subpoenas on potato farmers, etc. There was never a dull moment!
What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising or particularly compelling during this summer position?
I was tasked with setting up and conducting outreach clinics in the farthest parts of the Saint John Valley. In doing so, I worked with many community partners. I was surprised and pleased to see how many people and organizations wanted to get involved to help us provide our services!
What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience?
While rural populations may seem to be similarly situated, communities are very diverse in the problems that they face. Getting involved and immersed in the area is critical to becoming the best advocate for clients. Also, Northern Maine is like a world of its own – in the best way!
How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?
This summer, a large part of my position was handling housing and consumer cases, which I have never done before. I was not expecting to enjoy that work as much as I did, and I think it taught me a lot about myself and my career aspirations.
What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?
I would highly recommend Rural Summer Legal Corps to anyone intending to pursue public interest work, even if serving rural populations is not their end goal. There is such a dire need for legal assistance in these communities, and the support and additional training from Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is definitely worthwhile.
How are you spending your free time this summer?
I spent my free time getting to know Maine. It is an incredible place, especially for anyone who likes the outdoors! If you ever get the opportunity to travel that way, take it – and make sure not to overlook Aroostook County if you do!
What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall?
I am most looking forward to reconnecting and spending time with friends this fall! I am also excited to take advantage of as many in-person experiential learning opportunities as I can.