This Summer, Legal Intern Nicholas Darbouze completed an internship at the Center for New York City Neighborhoods. This is his account of his time at the Center and his contribution to advancing the Center’s goals around affordable and accessible homeownership.
As my summer internship at the Center for New York City Neighborhoods concludes, I find myself reflecting on what a valuable experience this internship has truly been. My time at the Center has not only deepened my understanding of the legal world but has also fostered personal growth that I will carry with me throughout my career.
During my time at the Center, I had the opportunity to engage in a diverse range of issues that allowed me to experience various aspects of in-house legal work. In fact, my supervising attorneys purposely selected tasks that would give me hands-on experience with as many different aspects of compliance work as possible. This intentional approach not only broadened my legal skill set but also gave me insights into the day-to-day challenges and responsibilities that in-house legal teams must navigate.
I had the benefit of engaging in tasks such as contract review, internal policy & procedure review, legal research, memo drafting, and providing guidance based on research to Center staff, just to name a few. However, the highlight of my internship was undoubtedly the creation of an internal memo addressing potential legal challenges stemming from one of the Center’s programs. This project required in-depth research, critical analysis, and a deep dive into the legal intricacies surrounding anti-discrimination laws in state, federal, and taxation contexts. Guided by my senior attorneys, I also had the privilege of drafting questions for outside counsel based on the memo’s findings. This was a real hands-on experience in which I witnessed how my work is contributing to the shaping of legal strategy that the Center will adopt to ensure compliance with not only the program in question, but all present and future programs at the Center.
These kinds of practical and genuine experiences are why I value this internship. Much of law school deals with practice in theory—this internship has been all practical. For someone like me, a first-generation law student with little to no insight into the legal world, this kind of real-world experience casts a powerful light into the often opaque legal realm. These experiences have gone a long way in dispelling gnawing questions of fear and doubt regarding my ability to succeed in the field of law.
I also want to reflect on the legal team at the Center itself for a moment. I believe that part of the legal team’s excellence in their craft owes itself to the fact that they are not only a team of skilled professionals but, perhaps even more importantly, they are sincere advocates for affordable and accessible housing. The entire team has a deeply intricate understanding of the discriminatory lending practices that create unjust housing conditions for communities of color. I believe it is this zealous advocacy that undergirds their work and produces excellent results, and to work in tandem with such a passionate team has been a pleasure.
As I prepare to leave the Center, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built. I can confidently say that after this internship, I feel confident in my ability to function and excel within the legal world. That confidence is in no small part the result of the kindness, guidance, and tutelage I received from Jade, Jessi, Laylaa, and Pushpa. So, to all of you, and everyone at the Center, I am so incredibly grateful to have been selected for this opportunity. Thank you.
Nicholas Darbouze is in the Fordham University School of Law Class of 2024