Summer internships hone practical skills in real-world settings, but they also allow students to build their professional networks. This series will highlight four students who spent their summers interning in Richmond, Virginia. Read Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3

Sarah Patras, L'16, applied for her internship at the Community Tax Law Project (CTLP) through the CDO's On-Campus Interview Program for Public Interest jobs. Even though tax law was a little daunting and she hadn't yet completed a tax law class, Patras decided to give it a try. She also said she was interested in doing a public interest internship during her 1L year. "I love it, so I'm really glad I did it," she said. She's also one of 130 students to receive a stipend from UR Law to fund her unpaid summer public service internship.

The Richmond-based low income tax clinic, which is funded by grants, helps low wage individuals resolve tax-related issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Virginia Department of Taxation. Patras said she was fortunate to be able to represent clients as a student intern. The IRS allows law students to represent clients under the supervision of a practitioner. This enabled her to take on the responsibilities of an attorney, such as acquiring power of attorney forms and working out issues directly with the IRS. "It's awesome—I actually have my own clients," she said. "I've learned a lot, so I'm looking forward to my taxation class." The experience has made Patras seriously consider specializing in tax law. She said the internship has really broadened her perspective.

Patras explained, "I love the client interaction—it's honestly my favorite thing. They all have stories to tell, some of them are in really poor situations, and I just love talking to them." She added, "I'm one hundred percent involved with everything that goes on with my clients—I really like that responsibility." She's also pleased that she had the opportunity to close several cases during the summer. "Being able to say, 'we did it, we solved this,' is an amazing feeling."