January 31, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Political Science Student Works with ‘Most Forgotten Citizens’

Philip Moncla, a senior studying Political Science and pursuing a Law, Justice & Culture certificate, spent his summer working for the Southeast Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS), an organization that provides legal counsel and services to low income people living in Ohio.

Philip Moncla

Philip Moncla

During his internship, Moncla was “granted an in-depth look at poverty law and how the system treats some of America’s most forgotten citizens.”

Moncla’s job was to review SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) rates over the past five years in 33 counties in Ohio. Through that work, Moncla became familiar with the problems associated with SNAP, which works as a food stamps program for Ohio’s citizens.

The problem in many Ohio counties is that SNAP benefits are sometimes discontinued to needy people in order to make up for budget deficits. Through SEOLS, lawyers are brought onto these cases to ensure that counties are in compliance with SNAP regulations.

Moncla also looked into divorce cases in Athens County, trying to determine if hiring a lawyer for a divorce cases extended the length of the case. He found that hiring a lawyer did in fact result in longer lasting divorce filings but that the filings were more complete than those where a lawyer was not hired.

When low-income citizens want to file their own divorces in order to avoid paying a lawyer, they are given a “pro se packet,” which puts the legal process of divorce into more understandable terms. The hope with those packets was that working-class Americans would be able to complete divorce filings without lawyers, but Moncla found when reviewing those filings countless technical error in the filings.

“Helping those unlucky enough to need legal help is something that I find incredibly rewarding, and this internship introduced me to that side of the law. Perhaps the greatest thing I learned was that a career in law was a path that I am interested in.”

Moncla chose to pursue a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture after learning about the program in the fall of his junior year from Dr. Andrew Ross, Associate Professor of Political Science.

“After reviewing the application process and hearing about the core LJC 2000 course that was only offer to certificate students, I knew I had to apply,” Moncla said.  “The rigorous coursework that is required in order to obtain an LJC certificate has expanded my understanding of the power and function of law in society.  The CLJC has been extremely successful in presenting me with vexing perspectives on contemporary issues, and I would highly recommend the certificate program to anyone who has an interest in law and doesn’t shy away from hard work.”

He also has taken advantage of pre-law advising offered through the CLJC.

Pre-law adviser Larry Hayman “helped me find my SEOLS internship, revise my resume and personal statements, and helped me prepare for taking the LSAT.  He has also had countless planning and strategizing meetings with me and has assisted greatly in my preparation for law school.”

After graduation, Moncla plans on attending law school. He has already been accepted to several schools, but he is waiting to hear back from the others to which he applied, before making a final decision.

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