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Clerkship with nonprofit provides opportunity to learn and serve

UC Law Student Sol Kersey brings a passion for helping others to clerkship with Legal Aid

Sol Kersey (who uses the gender-neutral pronouns they, them, theirs) earned a master’s degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2018. Challenged with how to apply this new knowledge, Kersey decided that the most impact they could have would be by becoming a lawyer and try moving to public interest advocacy, probably after five to ten years of experience at a traditional firm. It happened a bit faster than expected.

Soon after beginning coursework at the UC College of Law, Kersey heard about the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. Legal Aid is a non-profit law firm whose mission is to assist low-income families through the legal hurdles forced upon them by poverty. “It is really about trying to help the greatest number of people facing the greatest amount of imminent harm,” said Kersey. Something clicked. Kersey reached out to a managing lawyer at the firm and asked to speak with her over coffee. That conversation led to a summer clerkship Kersey described as “the most holistic, comprehensive, cram-in-as-much-as-you-can 10-week experience!”.

“I got incredible exposure to a wide range of things: I was drafting discovery devices, motions for summary judgement, jury instructions, visiting clients, conducting interviews-nearly every aspect of litigation from start to finish,” said Kersey.

“I have been focused mostly on housing, an issue that is near and dear to my heart,” said Kersey, “I believe that housing is a fundamental human right, and in Ohio there are no protections in place for queer populations at the federal or state levels.”

Kersey also appreciated the collaborative environment at Legal Aid. “Everybody’s helpful, we’re all legitimately on the same team,” said Kersey, “it’s very much a sense of community, and that blew me away!”

Sol Kersey standing with a tablet adressing a group

Sol Kersey explains a research study to a group of participants, as part of the Inter/Sex/Shun/All Program.

Kersey was impressed by their experience working with Legal Aid last summer, and they were impressed with them as well. In fact, Kersey continues to work with them part-time during the school year and has accepted an offer to return as a clerk next summer. Kersey believes getting the most out of an externship experience entails being authentic, taking on new challenges, and asking a lot of questions. “There’s a fear of vulnerability that you have to get over. It’s better to make mistakes early, and learn from them, that leaves more time to do things correctly,” said Kersey.

Learn more about the UC College of Law

The Nathaniel Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law offers many programs for students interested in working on equality issues, including a joint degree program leading to both a JD and an MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies.