Intake Intern Reflects on her Experience at Legal Aid DC
Undergraduate student Camila Estrada worked with the Intake team as part of her spring 2024 internship.
Camila Estrada in front of the Washington Monument


As my internship at Legal Aid DC draws to a close, I have been contemplating the invaluable experience and relationships I have cultivated. My decision to intern at Legal Aid DC was an easy one, as its mission to advocate for the low-income residents of D.C. resonated with my commitment to legal advocacy. As a first-generation student, I do not have any legal professionals in my family. The first time I ever met an attorney, I was 18 years old and starting to explore my interest in law. Even though I am new to the field of law, advocacy is something I deeply understand. Growing up as a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself, I spent a lot of time advocating and speaking on my parents’ behalf due to language barriers. Whether it was at restaurants, in doctors’ offices, or at the DMV, I learned how to best represent the interests of my loved ones who could not advocate for themselves. My passion for legal advocacy is something I have pursued throughout my college career, and my experience at Legal Aid DC has only solidified my decision to pursue a career in law. 

I am currently a senior at the University of Texas at Dallas and have spent most of my life in Texas. As a junior, I applied to the selective Bill Archer Fellowship program, which sends students from the University of Texas system to D.C. to prepare them for a career in policy-making and public service. As a student of criminology and political science, I have devoted my undergraduate career to understanding the inequalities that exist within our legal system, the root causes of crime, and what we can do to combat the pressing issues faced by underrepresented communities. My acceptance into the Fellowship program meant that I could intern at a place of my choosing while shouldering a full course load and living alongside passionate and brilliant students. 

As an intake intern at Legal Aid DC, I have had the opportunity to work with and assist attorneys from all five legal departments. My incredible supervisor, Yoliara Ramos, has encouraged me to branch out and explore my interests during my internship. Every day has been an exciting opportunity to learn something new, whether it’s sitting in on client interviews, shadowing attorneys in court, or conducting legal research. My work with the intake department has given me the most client-facing opportunities, and sitting in on initial interviews has allowed me to understand the complex needs of our client base. Listening to the stories of potential clients, spotting legal issues, and compiling resources to make information more accessible has been incredibly rewarding.  

I have also worked very closely with the Reentry Justice Project, which helps clients who are facing barriers in their lives because of their criminal records. Assisting attorneys throughout the record sealing process has been meaningful work, and through conducting case searches, reviewing documents at the courthouse, and sitting in on client interviews, even as an intern, I have felt like my work has made a real impact. The feedback and guidance that I have received from the Project’s Coordinator, Becca Gallahue, has been invaluable.  

My experience as an intern has exceeded all my expectations, and working alongside legal professionals who have dedicated their lives to public service is inspiring. From the beginning, I was welcomed with open arms, and I have built wonderful relationships that will make saying goodbye difficult. My semester in D.C. has changed my life and has allowed me to create and expand a valuable network of legal professionals that I admire. I feel more confident and inspired than ever to pursue my dream of legal advocacy and public service. I hope to work for an organization as incredible as Legal Aid DC one day and to become an advocate as zealous as their team. 

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