DIG: Disability Independence Group Intern

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Litigation Intern, Programming Intern, Miami, Florida

You know those cases you see on TV? The insanely interesting ones you thought a lawyer never actually sees in real life? Those are the kinds of cases Disability Independence Group (DIG) deals with on a daily basis. Don’t believe me? Litigation Director Matthew Dietz told us about a case where a veteran who suffered from PSTD was being denied the right to have his support dog in his condominium. Through DIG, a lawyer was able to prove that the veteran needed this dog to maintain his mental wellbeing. They won the case and best part is the dog even got to go to the trial.

DIG also settled a class action lawsuit with Carnival Cruise Lines in order to ensure that all vessels were wheelchair accessible and defended individuals with HIV who were being refused the ability to obtain liposuctions and hair transplants.

The best part? They accept interns!

What It’s Actually Like:

Everyday for a DIG intern is different, but they will always be extremely involved. Executive Director Deborah Dietz said, “An intern/volunteer can expect to be given an assignment and dive right in.” At DIG, interns will receive first-hand experience with real cases rather than just watching from the sidelines. Why would you get an internship that only consists of getting coffee and filing papers when you can be 100 percent involved with life changing cases?

Cool Stuff You’ll Get To Do:

Mrs. Dietz outlined three reasons why the opportunity to work with DIG is so special:

  1. 90 percent of the lawsuits are federal court cases, which are hard to come by and get experience with at a standard law firm.
  2. Many are cases of first impression. This means that it’s the first time the court is hearing about and deciding on a particular issue. You will literally help make history.
  3. DIG is about more than litigation; it’s about community. Interns get experience with both the law and the outreach aspect of DIG. This means that when you can volunteer to help spread the message about people with disabilities and raise awareness for the people in the community who need it most.

What You’ll Learn:

“We teach how to think and how to actually practice law. Our interns/volunteers learn how to think through all of the steps of a case and litigation strategy,” said Mrs. Dietz. But, an internship at DIG is more than just about the logistics of the law, but about the people who depend on the law in order to receive the life they deserve. Through this internship, students will realize how important the law is in protecting the rights of disabled members of the community. Dietz said, “We all hope that our students learn about persons with disabilities and that everyone deserves respect and the right to live inclusively in our community.”

How To Apply:

If you live in Miami, you can apply through your school or meet with a representative at the Placement Fairs DIG attends. If you’re not a local or go to school outside of Miami, Mrs. Dietz accepts resumes at [email protected].

There are internship positions available for both litigation and programming. For litigation positions, it’s helpful if prospective volunteers submit a writing sample as well.

Skills That Impress Them:

Mrs. Dietz said, “The ideal intern is a person that likes to work hard, challenge themselves, knows how to write, is very organized, and is excited to learn.” It’s important to understand that DIG does not believe in finding just any solution for their clients, but the best solution. This requires interns to be ready and willing to dedicate their time and effort to solving problems creatively and effectively. Mrs. Dietz said, “We are not looking for a quick and easy answer to a problem, we are looking to make systemic change and shift the paradigm on how society thinks about disability and inclusion.

Cool Perks:

A DIG internship is not one that consists of running errands and getting coffee, but actually gaining real experience that will impress interviewers in the future. Mrs. Dietz said, “We let students work on real cases and let them have real experiences speaking with clients.  This is invaluable experience for a student.  They will have practice experience to put on their resume and to discuss in job interviews.”

The Deets:

Internships with DIG are on a volunteer basis, where the compensation is legal experience and a new appreciation and understanding of legal advocacy and why it’s crucial.

This internship requires the complete dedication of its interns. “We work hard, have high standards and do not settle for good enough,” said Mrs. Dietz.

College Magazine Staff

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