Drake Law second-year student Brandy Bonecher is a legal intern with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) in Des Moines. USCRI is a nonprofit that provides services for refugees, immigrants, and human trafficking survivors. The Des Moines field office provides support to refugees resettling in Des Moines with services such as housing placement, cultural orientation, employment preparation/placement, and immigration legal assistance.

We checked in with Brandy to learn more about her internship experience.

How did you learn about this opportunity, and what made you want to apply?

I volunteered with USCRI Des Moines before starting law school and really enjoyed the work. While volunteering, I helped at various USCRI legal clinics and built connections with the legal department. I found working with refugees to be incredibly rewarding, so I reached out to the staff attorney about interning with the legal department over the summer and, fortunately, they were happy to have me on board.

How did Drake Law prepare you to serve in this role?

Drake Law helps you develop so many practical skills during your 1L year and those skills have really helped me in my internship. I spend a lot of my time researching and writing for projects. The focus on legal research and writing skills in my first year at Drake Law was invaluable and provided a great foundation for legal work outside the classroom. 

What does your day-to-day look like?

As an intern, I have a variety of responsibilities in the legal department. Mainly, I’m heading a few projects for the legal department over the summer. I’m fortunate to have some flexibility in my day-to-day work. Some days, I go into the office to help update files. Others, I’m working remotely on several projects that I’ve been assigned. Currently, I’m working on a citizenship learning seminar for specific refugee communities in Des Moines (a presentation and Q&A about the process of applying for U.S. citizenship), which involves a lot of legal research. After this, I will also be coordinating a green card clinic where we will help refugees complete green card applications.

How will this experience impact or shape your plans post-graduation?

Coming into law school, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in public interest after graduation, so I really wanted to gain experience in different areas of public interest law to help narrow down my post-graduation plans. Working with USCRI is providing great insight into specific areas of immigration law and the experience of working for nonprofits in general. 

Learn more about internship opportunities at Drake Law School here.