Hosting Remote Internships & Fellowships: Highlights from the 2020 Legal Service Agency Roundtable

On May 13th, representatives from Illinois legal service agencies met over Zoom for the Legal Service Agency Roundtable. This year, the group discussed hosting remote internships & fellowships during the pandemic.

PILI Senior Managing Attorney Brent Page started out by giving an overview of the feedback given by 2019 PILI Interns, Fellows and Supervisors. He noted that several Interns and Fellows expressed the need for clear deadlines and the desire for more context around how their work fits into the agency. Brent noted that these items will be especially important this year since interns and fellows will be spending at least a portion of their summer working from home.

Onboarding Interns and Fellows remotely

Andrew Sharp of Illinois Legal Aid Online then talked about how he was planning to do a virtual orientation with ILAO’s interns and fellows. He recommended tools to share presentations and make them more interactive, including recommending Loom to record presentations and share them. He talked about the importance of readying staff for incoming interns and fellows and to make sure to not forget the basics of onboarding that would typically be done in the office, like introducing staff to new interns and fellows.

Establishing your role as a manager and effectively supervising remotely

Ruth Edwards from Legal Council for Health Justice talked about how their agency uses a spreadsheet to give interns and fellows projects and to keep track of their ongoing projects. She also went into detail about virtual check-ins and one-on-one meetings to establish a strong relationship between supervisors and their interns and fellows remotely.

Providing feedback remotely and monitoring progress remotely

Hilda Bahena from Catholic Charities talked about using different approaches and technology to provide feedback. She mentioned considering how to provide feedback carefully and whether over phone or video. She also encouraged incorporating both positive and critical feedback, but to be truthful and straight with feedback. She also suggested including interns in staff meetings and check ins.

Developing and updating materials for remote work

Elisabeth Hieber from Center for Disability and Elder Law discussed how to update training materials and suggested going through all the different training processes to update them to be virtual. She talked about how her agency went through their internal procedures and created step-by-steps protocols to help interns and fellows get familiar with how to do tasks virtually.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Legal Service Agency Roundtable. We look forward to seeing you at our Illinois Forum on Pro Bono, this fall, which brings together law firm pro bono leaders as well as corporate, agency and law school pro bono leaders.

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Posted in 2020 Roundtables.

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