December 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Career Week | Alumni Networking at Reception Leads Student to Internship

Keeghan White, photo taken outside by trees

Keeghan White

by Kristin Distel

Senior Keeghan White’s internship with Southeastern Ohio Legal Services has paid off in dividends, providing him with a more focused career path, a wealth of legal knowledge, and a broadened network of professional contacts.

White, a pre-law student studying Political Science and History, is also completing Ohio University’s War and Peace Studies certificate. Additionally, he is the president of Phi Alpha Delta, OHIO’s pre-law fraternity.

“My internship at SEOLS helped me formulate an idea of what I want to do as a future attorney,” White says. Though he originally wanted to pursue public interest law generally, he now specifically wants to focus on evictions and housing discrimination. “I want to make that difference in people’s lives,” he explains. “If it means someone can stay in his or her home, I want to help.”

Strong Support from OHIO Faculty and Alumni

A College of Arts & Sciences alumni-student networking reception in February 2017 first piqued White’s interest in interning with SEOLS. After conferring with OHIO alums Pierce Reed, Adrienne Gavula, and Larry Hayman, White became increasingly convinced that SEOLS offered the internship experience he was seeking. Hayman also offered to put White in contact with a large number of potential attorneys and organizations with which White could intern. Hayman is Ohio University’s Pre-Law Specialist and Advisor.

Career & Networking Reception, Feb. 1, 2018, RSVP Now.

“As a legal aid society, SEOLS is more hands-on, which is just want I was looking for,” White explains.

White also notes that he received invaluable internship and career preparation through his OHIO coursework. He particularly cites Dr. Barry Tadlock’s Politics of Appalachia course as one that helped familiarize him with the needs and interests of local people. “Dr. Tadlock’s course really attuned me to the poverty issue in Appalachia,” White explains.

He also notes that Dr. Vincent Jungkunz’s Politics Through Film course enabled him to identify local needs more effectively.

Serving the Needs of Appalachians

As an intern at Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, White acted as a liaison between Appalachian clients and the organization’s attorneys. White prescreened client files for the legal team and, based on the information gathered in the prescreening process, provided the information necessary to determine whether SEOLS could take each case. His duties included calling applicants and asking about their needs, particularly as they pertained to housing issues.

“I helped SEOLS streamline the process of simplifying legal jargon, especially when working with clients,” White explains.

During White’s internship, the majority of cases with which he assisted dealt with evictions and landlord disputes. Indeed, SEOLS exclusively handles civil cases, including divorces, civil disputes, and, as White explains, a notably high number of housing concerns.

‘Be Patient with People’

The lessons White gleaned from his internship were both professional and personal.

“I learned so much about tenants’ rights and landlord/tenant agreements. I learned what to do if landlords aren’t holding up their end of the lease, and I definitely became more familiar with legal terminology,” White explains.

In addition to these practical lessons, White honed his interpersonal skills.

“My internship taught me that when you’re talking to clients who are going through a hard time, it’s important to be patient with people. Make sure they know you are doing everything you can. Be a people person,” he adds. “Be sincere. If you lack sincerity, clients are less likely to give you information that will enable you to help them.”


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