Summer Associate Embraces Pro Bono Early in Career

Law student Marina Shkuratov, a Summer Associate at Choate Hall & Stewart, says she initially decided to pursue a law degree because it would allow her to combine her love of analytical reasoning with her desire to apply the complexities of the law in ways that would directly benefit others.

Over the past couple years, Marina, a rising 3L at Harvard Law School, has pursued opportunities that enable her to put her growing skill set to use, enrolling in the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and spending a summer working in the District Attorney’s Office. So when she first heard about Choate’s work with the Clearinghouse’s Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Marina says she immediately knew she wanted to get involved.

“I really wanted the opportunity to meet people and actually talk about the things that really matter to them in day-to-day life,” she says. “That was what drew me to it, as well as the opportunity to help in some small way or at least provide information and figure things out as best we could.”

On June 16, Marina joined a number of volunteer attorneys and other Summer Associates from Choate at a legal clinic at St. Francis House, where they split into groups and met with shelter guests in need of civil legal assistance.

Marina’s clients that morning needed help with CORI and housing issues and she says meeting with them was a rewarding experience that allowed her to move beyond the more rigid structure of a law class.

“[When you volunteer], you get to see things, you get to apply your skills, and you get to think, ‘How does this apply to the person sitting in front of me?’” she says, “Instead of, ‘How did this get applied in this abstract case book?’”

As she heads into her final year of school, Marina already has plans for further pro bono work. She will be volunteering with the Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Institute, a program that trains students to represent indigent clients in the state criminal justice system.

Marina’s career goals continue to shift as she gains experience. She says she’d love to do litigation or maybe labor and employment law, but for now she’s just getting a feel for as many different practice areas as she can. And regardless of where she ends up, she plans to make pro bono a regular part of her practice.

“I think it’s so easy in law school and in the workforce to get caught up in the day-to-day and not realize the ways the law can be really impactful and really empowering or disempowering,” she says. “It’s tremendously important for people in the law—and also people in a wide variety of professions—to use the knowledge that we’re so fortunate to gain through education and through experience to help people who can actually benefit from it.”

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