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New York City, as you might have heard, is not hiring. And the mayor’s employment freeze includes attorneys. But law school students who cost Gotham’s exchequer not one red cent began arriving by the dozens last week to work as summer interns in law departments in 64 city agencies. Early to such duty is Aaronda P. Watson, assigned to the largest of these agencies, the City of New York Human Resources Administration. For Watson, 30, a second-year student at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia, the job brings her home to New York for the summer. It also provides her a fast start at practical experience in government law, and a basis on which to decide her future in the profession — public or private sector. Her second day was spent in administrative law hearings covering the gamut of social services handled by the city HRA, including medical assistance, food stamps, and public assistance. According to her boss, Stephen M. Aronson, attorney recruitment coordinator for the agency, Watson and other law clerks starting at his agency next week will earn $12.48 per hour, 75 percent of which is underwritten by the Federal Work-Study Program of the U.S. Department of Education, with the remaining 25 percent coming from individual schools. “I definitely know that I want to practice law in New York City,” said Watson, who worked as a banking manager for MBNA America before deciding to go to law school. “But what type of law? I’m in the early stages of where I want to go. I’m hoping that this internship will help direct me. “It’s very organized, and very hands-on,” she added. “I see that just being here for three days.” In past internships, Watson explored other possibilities. One summer was spent teaching English in a rural village of Costa Rica under the auspices of World Teach. Another was spent working at Court TV, where she helped assemble film clips for a special 10th anniversary program. Next week, Watson will be joined at the HRA by three New York Law School students: Ana Ramirez, Maura Kugelman and Irine Berezansky. “A lot of law students spend their summers at private firms in the city, but then a lot of them ask themselves, ‘What’s it like working in public service?’” said Aronson. “After working for the city, you can make a choice — that’s the beauty of it. “It’s mutually beneficial,” he added. “We’re not allowed to hire any additional attorneys right now. So we really offer good experience for our law clerks.” Warner Johnston, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that 72 students enrolled in the Summer in the City Urban Legal Project at New York Law were to begin working this month at city agencies. The internships run for 10 weeks. During the current fiscal year, an additional 54 law students have been put to work for year-long internships in 14 city agencies, earning a $7,000 stipend that is likewise financed by the federal work-study program and campus coffers. While Johnston said law students could apply for internships at any time during the year, Aronson said early interest works best as a practical matter. In deciding on summer clerks, he said, “I work six to eight months in advance.”

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