For this edition of Texas Law’s Student Spotlight series, meet 3L Lea Kokenes!
Q: What did you gain from your summer experience in a public interest fellowship?
I spent this past summer as a G. Rollie White Trust Public Interest Summer Fellow at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, in New York City, as an intern with their Civil Practice. Through that experience, I was able to see what working on a civil team at a holistic defense office really looks like, and I learned more about the direct civil penalties that are born of interactions with the criminal legal system and the legal tools available to address those civil penalties.
Q: What made you want to become a lawyer?
Prior to law school, I worked for a couple of years at a local non-profit with youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. In that time I noticed how most of my clients had some sort of interaction with the criminal legal system, and I decided to become a lawyer to gain the tools I needed to better address that intersection of criminal involvement and housing instability.
Q: Can you describe your favorite Texas Law moment?
One of my favorite Texas Law moments came through the Housing Clinic in my 2L year, when, with the support of my supervisor Nelson Mock, I was able to help a client get his eviction abated, and ultimately dismissed with prejudice. Helping someone stay in their home was a great feeling, and definitely strengthened my passion for housing justice work.
Q: What is your plan following graduation?
I’m currently applying to jobs, and hoping to work in housing defense in New York City following graduation.