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LCA Intern Profiles

Claire Henleben

Claire Henleben is one of two LCA interns this semester. Claire is a 3L at Loyola University of Chicago Law School and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri in history and political science. Before LCA, Claire was a research assistant for Professor James Gathii at Loyola and interned for the Clerk of the Court in the Dirksen Federal building and in the Chicago Field Office for the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to her assistance with client intake, Claire was especially helpful in helping us prepare for a lecture about legacy in the arts community with the Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art. 

 

Start by telling us a little about yourself. What led you to pursue the law?

I’m one of those people who always knew law was what I wanted to do. I was usually on speech and debate, so law seemed like a natural fit. Outside of being a law student, I am a lifelong artist and performer. I learned acrylic painting from my grandmother and I also performed in a ballet company all the way through high school. After some time away from the arts, I wanted to bring the arts back into my life, which is what brought me here to LCA.

 

How did you hear about LCA?

I actually learned about LCA through a Google search! I knew that I wanted to do an internship in the Fall and I wanted to do something in an area that I’m passionate about. LCA showed up as the premier—really the only organization of its kind in this area—so it’s been a good fit.

 

What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?

Before LCA, I had never worked in a legal aid context before, so I looked forward to working more closely with clients in a way that I’ve never done before. Most of my previous internships were research and writing based. This has been much more hands-on with personal interactions with people who I know are directly benefitting from the work that we do.

It has been especially gratifying to see the whole process unfold—from the initial call and referral, and then eventually seeing that the case has been closed and we’ve helped resolve another case. Something else that has surprised me has been the level of gratitude from our clients. Most are just looking for some validation for their concerns, some respect. The fact that I’ve been able to hear some of these people’s stories has been incredible.

 

Do you have a favorite experience from your time with us?

The benefit was definitely a highlight because I hadn’t really done anything like that before. I loved being involved in some of the planning process and eventually being able to go and see the number of people who care about the work that LCA does. We’re based here in the office most days, so seeing how many people are invested in this organization was exciting.


What’s next for you? Has your time here impacted your plans for your legal career?

Passing the bar exam is the most immediate hurdle, but I eventually hope to go into estate planning. I would like to stay in the area and continue doing pro bono work with LCA. I definitely don’t see the end of my internship here as the end of my involvement with this organization.

 

How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?

I’ve had several opportunities involving estate law, which is one of the areas of law that I’m most interested in. These opportunities have come both in the work I’ve been doing with some of our clients, but also through some of the research I was able to do for our educational programming.

Besides the practical experience I’ve gained from working on matters related to estate law, I also had several opportunities to learn more about Intellectual Property, which I didn’t know as much about before this semester. On top of this exposure to IP, I’m also taking my first courses in IP this semester, so what I’m doing here has lined up very well with those courses.

 

Do you have any more comments about your time here?

I’ve adored the spectacular view from my office! Honestly, it’s wonderful to share an office with other people. In most of my earlier internships I was the lone intern, but it’s been such a great atmosphere here with the staff and Thomas, our other intern.

My experience here at LCA really showed me that I do want to continue working for artists and performers in such a meaningful way.

 

Thomas Key

Thomas Key is our second Fall 2019 intern. Thomas is a 3L at Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology and holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Political Science and History. Before LCA, Thomas served as a compliance intern at Upright Law and also interned with Chapekis Chapekis & Schmidt. Thomas contributed to several LCA research projects and was always eager to take on new and interesting issues. We wish Thomas the very best of luck as he completes his JD and continues his journey in the law.

 

Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to pursue the law?

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then moved around a lot with my family. Now I’d say that I’ve found my home on the Great Lakeshore.

After undergrad, I went to law school because I wanted to apply my skills in research, argumentation, and writing to helping people and solving problems. Outside of school I’m a hockey player, hiker, cyclist and history buff.

 

I understand that you also DJ?

Yes! In high school I became interested in DJing because of how it allows you to blend hip-hop and electronic styles. It all started with my first deck, which was handed down to me by my brother, and a couple of speakers in my dorm freshman year—but I eventually expanded to DJing formals and larger parties.

These experiences led me to see how law connects with music, especially when it comes to copyright. I remember asking myself several times “is any of this even legal?”

 

How did you hear about LCA?

I learned about LCA through one of my Professors who worked with LCA’s counterpart in New York, VLANY. He described his experiences working with a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization (VLA) as one of the best experiences in his early career and strongly recommended finding a way to get involved.

 

What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?

I expected to be involved with clients directly, but not so directly. But I mean that’s been one of the best parts. You get to see the whole process –dive right in and really help a lot of people. I guess I also didn’t expect the level of joy and gratitude from our clients. I am amazed to see the instincts that so many of our clients have about what is just and what is unjust. Despite imprecision and lack of knowledge of some of the specifics, there’s a strong sense of what is right and wrong, which I find so refreshing.

 

Thomas, the ever-hardworking intern, pauses our interview here to answer the phone and work with a client on intake.

 

Do you have a favorite experience from your time with us?

This happened several times, but probably those circumstances where something I had just learned in class happened to be the key to unlocking this person’s problem and getting them out from under a substantial amount of liability. I’ve also had some great opportunities to continue doing research in areas I love, including projects involving the DMCA and, of all things, choreography.

 

What’s next for you?

I’d like to be working primarily in copyright, trademark and litigation in the Arts and Entertainment industry, but I also have some interest in commercial litigation. I intend to continue to research and write about emerging developments in law and continue to educate people about the law. Longer term, I would like to go back to school for an LLM and ultimately work toward a professorship.

 

Has your time at LCA helped narrow the areas of law you plan to pursue?

One of the reasons why arts law is such an exciting area of the law is that every issue is unique and draws from different areas of laws. Because we work in so many different areas, my time at LCA has actually broadened some of my interests. I already had an interest in copyright, but I had much less experience in labor, contract, and landlord-tenant issues, all of which I’ve had some more exposure to during my time here.

 

How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?

For all the joy that you get out of studying law, there is nothing comparable to actually applying it in this type of setting. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is to recognize the distinction between what the law provides and what people want from it. I’ve seen how it’s often the case that the law won’t efficiently provide people with a sufficient remedy. In some cases this has been disheartening, but just knowing the level of help that we are able to provide really underlines the importance of considering these legal rights from the perspective of those with less access to legal resources.

 

What has it been like to work with the LCA Staff?

It’s been wonderful. It’s amazing to see what such a lean staff can do year in year out. There’s a real hands-on culture here that I love. Everyone is such a pleasure to work with and I can’t emphasize enough what a joy it is to work with people who are so dedicated to a common goal. You don’t always see that.

In general, I’d say that providing education and seminars is one of the most invaluable resources out there. After you get out of school it’s hard to find opportunities to continue to educate yourself, so the fact that LCA can provide this legal groundwork to so many can’t be understated. That education component is all the more important because it can potentially put people in positions where they might not even need assistance. It’s very proactive of LCA and its staff to be thinking so much about that.

 

Do you hope to volunteer with LCA once are admitted to the bar?

Yes, undeniably. Even if I don’t end up in Chicago, I would find another VLA to work with—I even have a spreadsheet of other VLAs around the country.

 

Finally, I understand that you contribute to an IP blog involving cats! Can you tell me more about that?

I am a “GuestKat” at IPKat, a law blog out of London that has been rated as the world’s Most Popular Intellectual Property Law Blawg by Justia. The sight mostly features discussions of Intellectual Property from a European perspective, but it’s still an interesting blend of European and American issues being discussed by academics who are passionate about all things IP--and who regularly adorn cat photos to their posts. That last bit gives some degree of levity to some pretty heavy topics.

Eleanora Rosati, one of the blog’s key contributors, lectured for one of my classes and I have been contributing regular articles ever since. The first piece I wrote addressed sampling in Europe from an American perspective. (check it out here) and I’ve continued to write about other IP developments in the US.

 

Do you have any other comments that you would like to share?

Even very early in your legal career there are ways to be involved with LCA and benefit the arts community in Chicago. We have this unbelievable arts scene here that needs the legal community. The amount of clients who have emailed me links to all kinds of events after we’ve finished intake is proof of this. The level of immersion in the arts that you get in the city is unbelievable. There’s more of it than you could ever consume and it deserves our attention.