Internship program helps alumnus find his footing in law school

More than 40,000 people find help every night in New York City’s homeless shelter system, ranging from children to the elderly. Among the many hands that keep the system running are current and future lawyers – people like Jacob Bezner ’19, who ensure the system remains compliant with a complex web of laws and regulations.

Now a JD candidate at Boston University School of Law, Bezner recently landed a legal internship with the New York City Department of Human Services, Litigation and Homeless Programs Unit. .

However, he got a head start on his legal career through Harpur Law Council’s Public Interest Law Internship Program, which he attended during the summer of 2018. During half of the summer, he interned at New York State Homes & Community Renewal. Tenant Protection Agency; the other half he spent at the New York Governor’s Storm Recovery Office.

“It was a very important experience for me, because it gave me exposure to legal work in government offices, which is what I’m actually doing right now,” he said. “It gave me a lot of context for what I wanted to do in the future and helped prepare me for a legal career.”

During his internships, he worked with managing attorneys on tasks such as conducting legal research, writing memoranda, and delivering presentations on legal issues. It’s the same job he does now at the New York City Department of Human Services’ homelessness program and litigation unit, with a year of law school behind him.

With a double major in political science and history at Binghamton, the native of Long Island is interested in the community-building role of law. He started considering public service during his time in Harpur, when he was involved in political activism and campaigns.

“I’ve had the pleasure of talking to thousands of people on their doorsteps and on the phone about the issues that matter most in their community. And I had a lot of conversations with people who felt unhappy with what the government was doing or what people in power were doing, or who generally felt out of the process,” he said. “I see the law as an opportunity to help rebuild those communities and help give people the services they need and create a more compassionate and caring society for all.”

He urged Harpur students interested in law to consider their opportunities through the Harpur Law Council. Students interested in the internship program are often told that they will do the same work as law students. This is not an exaggeration, found Bezner.

“Having that exposure as a student is so valuable because it really gives you the opportunity to assess whether you would like this kind of work,” he said. “As a law student, I feel like I have an advantage now because it’s a familiar environment.”

Jon J. Epps