Couple creates new internship program
Buffalo Law Journal
Buffalo trial lawyer John Feroleto saw a need. More accurately, Feroleto is quick to point out, it was his wife who came to him with an idea to give back to the city where they both work.
"She works with Lawyers For Learning, tutoring the grammar-school kids, and she came up with the idea that we could develop an internship for older students," Feroleto said of wife Paula Feroleto, a state Supreme Court justice.
With an unemployment rate for minority males in Buffalo of higher than 50 percent, John Feroleto said, he hopes their new venture, The Law Intern Program of Buffalo, will offer 16- and 17-year-olds an opportunity to work in downtown law firms, gaining valuable experience in paid internships.
"I am hoping it will give the kids a chance to get some exposure to working in an office setting," he said, "and possibly benefit from some mentoring along the way."
Students who are selected for the summer internship will complete a training session, conducted in conjunction with the 8th Judicial District, before being matched up with a law firm they'll intern for.
Given that this is the first year of the program, Paula Feroleto said, if they match up between 10 and 20 students with firms, she will consider it a huge success. "I hope from there, once the law firms have good experiences and they tell their colleagues, we will see it grow," she said.
She said the partnering of attorneys with young inner-city residents is something they hope will be beneficial to all involved.
"The graduation rate in the City of Buffalo is pretty low," she said. "At the same time, law firms and the courts are two of the biggest employers in the city. The firms usually hire people in the summer to file and do other jobs, so (we hope to) get these jobs to kids who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity."
While John Feroleto would love to see students pass through his internship program and go on to become lawyers, he said the idea is to expose them to the entire legal profession and open their eyes to career possibilities.
"There is a definite disconnect between the youth in the city and the legal system," he said. "A lot of them are having a tough time, and I think bringing them into the office, working with them and giving them a chance is important."
Jeff Marion is a solo practitioner in Buffalo, and the first lawyer to sign on for the internship program. "If I can help one of these kids out and give them a chance, I'm glad to be a part of it," he said.
Buffalo-based Forge Consulting, which facilitates litigation-related structured settlements, will supply shirts emblazoned with a Law Intern Program logo for the interns to wear on the job. Feroleto said that addresses another important element of what they hope to accomplish with this program.
"So many young people aren't even aware of how to properly dress for an office job," she said. "We hope this is another area we can expose them to a professional work environment."
For more information, call John Feroleto at 854-0700. Internships will run for six weeks, from approximately June 29 until Aug. 7.