Each year, MHAS welcomes a cohort of summer law clerks looking to put into practice the skills they have learned while in law school. This year, MHAS hosted three paid summer law clerks who had the opportunity to deepen their legal knowledge and gain hands-on experience while supporting our legal teams. We are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment throughout these last couple of months.

Keep reading to learn more about each of our law clerks: Charron Varona, Maricela Dorado, and Olivia Diab.

If you are interested in a law clerkship with MHAS, please send an email to info@mhas-la.org.

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Why were you interested in clerking with MHAS?
I was interested in clerking with MHAS because I wanted to spend my first law school summer doing work that I really care about. Mental health has always been an important aspect of my life because many of my family members have mental illness. I was taught at an early age the importance of maintaining your mental well-being and I wanted to work at a place that valued that as well.

What is something new you learned this summer?
I learned a lot this summer! Working at MHAS has taught me that there are many ways that mental health and the law intersect. Whether that be with housing law, or getting social security benefits. I’ve learned that the old model of treating mental health issues has been changed and I really love the way MHAS has taken a broader approach to better serve the community.

Why did you decide to go to law school?
I decided to go to law school for many reasons. Some of the main reasons are that there are no lawyers in my family and I wanted to make them proud by accomplishing this achievement. I also knew that I wanted a career that allowed me to help others everyday. And lastly, in undergrad some of my classes exposed me to the law and I thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Favorite activity to do while in quarantine?
My favorite thing to do while in quarantine has been to make my own kombucha! It’s a long process but so worth the wait.

Fun Fact?
Through my kombucha making I’ve actually discovered that I’m really good at coming up with creative names for my unique flavor combinations. I seriously think a company should hire me to create flavor names!

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Why were you interested in clerking with MHAS?
I am interested in mental health law and policy and learning how the legal system can be employed to protect the rights of people with mental illness and expand and improve access to humane and effective mental health care.

What is something new you learned this summer?
I learned a lot this summer and it’s hard to name just one! Generally, I think I have a much better sense (but still much to learn) of all the pieces that make up what is somewhat vaguely referred to as the “mental health system” and how the law fits into that.


Why did you decide to go to law school?
Before law school, I had been working and out of school for quite some time when I decided to change direction. I loved all the lofty learning I did as a student at a liberal arts college, but I wanted a practical application for big ideas and problem solving and law school seemed like a good place for that.

Favorite activity to do while in quarantine?
Taking on projects around the house, like organizing the pantry or refinishing a piece of furniture.

Fun Fact?
As an introvert, I find quarantine quite enjoyable! I really like that working from home means I can “bring” my dog to work everyday.

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Why were you interested in clerking with MHAS?
I have a background in psychology and was looking for a way to bridge my interest in mental health with a career in law. I learned about MHAS through a friend and was really excited about the work that the organization does for the community. I could not have imagined just how rewarding the work would be and how much I would learn in such a short period of time.

What is something new you learned this summer?
Most of the clients know more than I do about how to resolve their legal issues, they simply require resources that are not yet available to them and for folks in power to take them seriously.

Why did you decide to go to law school?
I decided to go to law school to learn how to navigate the legal system so that I can advocate for folks who did not have the same educational and professional opportunities as I have had.

Favorite activity to do while in quarantine?
I have been going on long drives up and down PCH and even through the mountains. I stop and hike where it seems fairly unpopulated.

Fun Fact?
I don’t know how to burp.

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Thank you all so much your hard work this summer! We can’t wait to see your future accomplishments.