Pulled Toward Public Service

Miami Law student Nejla Calvo receives prestigious Ella Baker Internship this summer.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 09, 2014) — Nejla Calvo has always felt a pull toward public service and representing those who can’t fend for themselves.

While at Middlebury College she was involved with projects that promoted diversity and racial and social justice as a member of the college’s Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity. She also conducted a research project in Bolivia, where she was born, on community justice.

It was this dedication to public service that drew Calvo to Miami Law, where she was named a Miami Scholar.

“Miami Law embraces a pro bono ethic by providing access to public interest opportunities, and connecting students to a vast network of legal professionals who are dedicated to public service,” said Calvo. “With guidance and support from the H.O.P.E. Public Interest Resource Center and the Center for Ethics and Public Service, I have been given the tools to forge my own career path as a future public interest lawyer in Miami.”

She spent her first-year summer as an intern for the Florida Justice Institute, involved in a variety of issues including writing demand letters to prisons for medical care for inmates to drafting complaints seeking compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for deaf inmates to intervening on behalf of inmates who were not allowed to practice their religious beliefs.

“At FJI, I gained hands-on experience in civil rights litigation,” said Calvo. “As an intern, I was assigned the same level of responsibility as one of FJI’s attorneys. I drafted motions, pleadings, and legal memoranda on a variety of cases dealing with prisoner’s rights, housing, and disability discrimination.”

That experience helped her land a prestigious Ella Baker Internship with the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services this summer.

“What I find motivating about studying law in Miami is that there exists a plethora of civil rights case studies all around me. Whether it’s labor and employment disputes, immigration troubles, or economic struggles that call for legal representation, there is just so much going on to get engaged in,” said Calvo. “What’s more is that I am able to learn by doing as a participant in legal clinics, internships, and public service oriented student organizations.”

Born in Bolivia to a Turkish mother and a Bolivian father, Calvo came to the United States at a young age. She grew up in Rhode Island before attending Middlebury College.

At the University of Miami’s School of Law, Calvo was touched by the deep public interest backgrounds of her first-year professors Anthony Alfieri and Jennifer Hill. It helped shape her future interest in community lawyering.
That passion has grown stronger, and she is now a legal intern with Alfieri’s Historic Black Church Program, and a research assistant for Hill. Calvo is also a member of the Charles C. Papy Moot Court Board, the Race & Social Justice Law Review, and the Society of Bar & Gavel and is an active participant in Books and Buddies and Equity Playhouse.

Calvo is quick to point out that one of her favorite aspects of Miami Law is her relationship with her colleagues.

“My law school experience has been enriched by my colleagues. Fellow Miami Law students are often generous with their time and resources—whether it is sharing study tips or referring other students for job opportunities. There is very much a pay it forward attitude when it comes to helping each other advance in our academics and careers.”


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