Posted: August 12th, 2013 | By: Phillip Bantz
Legal Aid of North Carolina has been selecting law students to serve as interns in offices across the state for years, but Erin Woodrum (’14) might be a first for the agency.
She initially walked into Legal Aid back in 2009 as a stressed-out 18-year-old undergrad at N.C. State University who needed a restraining order against an unstable roommate. The roommate had hired a lawyer, but Woodrum said she couldn’t afford one.
“She’d been locking me out of the apartment, breaking my stuff,” Woodrum said of the raving roomie. “Then one day I was stopped at a red light and she ran up and started beating on my car and threatening me.”
Woodrum’s dad directed her to Legal Aid’s Raleigh office, which helped her reach a settlement in which the roommate agreed in a contract to stop the harassment. Woodrum had already been considering a career in law, but said her experience with Legal Aid “definitely changed my perspective and has really stayed with me.”
Earlier this year, Woodrum was perusing the job board at the Wake Forest University School of Law, where she’s a third-year student, when she saw an ad for a Legal Aid intern. She applied and was selected for one of the two open slots at the agency’s Winston-Salem office.
Her first assignment? Helping a young woman about the same age as she was when she first came to Legal Aid take out a restraining order against her mentally ill brother.
“When my supervisor handed me the case she said, ‘If this hits too close to home for you, let me know.’ But I really wanted to do it. I could tell how scared she was,” said Woodrum, who added that the brother ended up consenting to the order.
Her internship officially ended July 26, but she’s been returning to the office to tie up loose ends on her unfinished cases. And she’s hoping that she might be able to come back some day and stay.
“If there was a job position available,” she said, “I would definitely like to have it.”