Notes from the Field: Lynette Long '20

Lynette Long '20 interned with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General for the Summer 2017 term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This summer, I interned at the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. The Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO) operates under the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau. Civil investigators team up with assistant attorney generals to enforce state wage and hour laws, prosecute exploitative businesses, and uphold workers’ rights. Enforcement efforts are aimed to ensure compliance with certain workplace requirements which include timely payment of wages, overtime compensation, minimum wage law, and earned sick leave policy. The Division also hosts wage theft clinics and community engagement programs to share free legal resources with Massachusetts residents and spread awareness of workplace rights.

As a non-legal intern, I performed audits of payrolls and analyzed patterns across disparate data sources. To obtain information from workers, I constructed surveys and contacted employees via mail and phone. I started the investigation at the ground-level, first processing e-complaints from workers into an online database, then auditing company records, and finally disseminating monetary restitution from legal settlements to workers.

I also worked as a research assistant to senior legal counsel, delving into the contracts of transportation network companies and examining potential tax evasion and fare manipulation. In addition to my work in the office, I had the opportunity to go out in the field. In Worcester, I acted as a representative of the Fair Labor Division, partnering with the Community Engagement Division to create and present an interactive information session about child labor laws to young workers. In Boston, I assisted with compliance visits and used my foreign language skills to communicate with limited-English employees.

On top of my primary involvement with the Fair Labor Division, I joined the Immigration Working Group, a Bureau-level team dedicated to protecting undocumented immigrants’ rights. I attended meetings with community members and non-profit organization leaders, constructed fact sheets on programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), drafted advocacy letters on behalf of AG Healey, and researched the contents of documents from the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, namely from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

My experiences with the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau reinforced my goals for personal and professional development, in that I wanted to do every job, no matter how small, to the best of my ability. I realized that the way I handle small or tedious tasks relates to how I handle larger, more glamorous ones.

After working at the AG’s Office, my future career plans have widened to potentially include going into federal law enforcement or workers’ rights advocacy. I found that there were many avenues for fields that interest me, such as cognitive science and technology, to intersect with law and public policy. I was amazed to see how much tangible, positive impact a career in the public sector could have and I learned that I wanted a hands-on role in changing lives in the community, outside of a cubicle. Without a grant from the Rockefeller Center, I would not have been able to pursue this opportunity with the Office of the Attorney General. I am beyond grateful to all of the donors who made my summer term one to remember.