Emily Brackman, Class of 2011

Major: Psychology and French Studies; Organization: The Urban Justice Center- Mental Health Project; Location: New York, NY

Emily Brackman, Class of 2011For the past 6 weeks, I have been working at the Urban Justice Center in downtown New York City. Within the UJC, I work specifically with the Mental Health Project. The MHP serves the severely and persistently mentally ill population of New York City by helping clients to navigate complicated bureaucratic systems and advocating on their behalf for disability benefits, housing, and a host of other legal issues. In addition to direct client work, my project is also involved in various lawsuits at the state and federal levels related to unjust practices negatively affecting individuals with mental illness. I work with three other interns, all law students, so as the only undergraduate I definitely have a lot of administrative tasks to complete on a daily basis (such as: requesting medical records, updating contact lists, and making photocopies in court). However, I have also had many great hands-on experiences, like visiting Riker’s Island to do discharge planning for mentally ill inmates, working at a help desk for individuals navigating the Fair Hearing process (in the fight to gain SSA benefits that they deserve) and attending Fair Hearings, and serving papers and subpoenas throughout the New York area. Throughout my time with MHP, I have learned and seen a great deal about the realities of life in NYC for those who suffer from mental illness, and have had the opportunity to work with an incredible team of legal advocates who are working to ease the burden state and city bureaucracies can create for their clients. So far, it has been a great opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the world of legal advocacy, public interest law, and in general the way a non-profit is run.