Former Intern Highlight: Lora Vineberg, Esq.

Former Intern Highlight:
Lora Vineberg, Esq.

 

Lora and her twin sisters as children.

Lora Vineberg, Esq. is a Staff Attorney with the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court and a former (two-time!) intern with GLS.

Lora was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Three weeks after her second birthday, her mother gave birth to her twin sisters. It was a big moment for Lora to go from being the only child to suddenly having two little sisters who demanded a lot of attention. From her vantage point in this new family dynamic, she quickly discovered that the quiet one—while having to sacrifice the most attention—reaps the most respect. Lora credits this revelation with shaping who she is today, someone who is very comfortable working behind the scenes, doing whatever they need to do without fanfare.

Lora didn’t love school very much as a child and spent the school year looking forward to summer camp, which she and her sisters attended in Canada, about ten hours from their home in Ann Arbor. She loved getting to be the “out of towner” who was new to the community. She made many new friends, spent time in nature, and enjoyed being around her sisters. Lora had a camp friend who eventually went on to become a lawyer. Her immense admiration for him and all he had accomplished sparked a fleeting impulse in Lora to pursue the same feat. But the thought of that much school—and then having to take (and pass) the bar exam—was inconceivable then.

In high school, she continued not being a huge fan of academics, except for one class. Her African American Literature course was taught by a long-term substitute who started a local poetry slam and quickly earned respect among the students and the community. When asked to write a poem about Malcolm X, an assignment Lora really connected with, her work was publicly praised for the first time, which left a deep impression on her. This experience planted a seed (though a long dormant one) that eventually grew into an example of how school can enhance one’s life.

After graduating from high school, Lora immediately found at job at a staffing service where she worked for eight years doing recruitment and HR. It was a small, woman-owned firm where she found a mentor and lifelong friend in the owner, and she loved it there. She would’ve stayed longer, but in 2007, she visited Clearwater, Florida on vacation and fell in love two-fold – both with the area and with a man she met there, who became her boyfriend and still is to this day.

Her mother had recently passed, so in 2008, Lora left the “frigid cold” of Michigan for Pinellas County. She worked a few different jobs in HR and business operations, none of which she loved. After receiving unsolicited praise for her writing from multiple external clients, though, she was reminded of that positive experience she had in high school and started wondering what it might be like to get a college degree. “I thought, maybe if I earn a degree, I’ll have more confidence. And maybe with more confidence, I’ll feel more empowered to find more fulfilling work where I’ll have more freedom to make my own decisions.”

She applied and was accepted into Eckerd College’s program for experienced learners. This program was designed especially for people like her, who needed to work a 9 to 5 while earning a degree. She spent several years working full-time while attending five-hour long classes two nights a week. It wasn’t easy, but she thrived. “Being a non-traditional college student definitely has its challenges, but for me, those challenges were vastly outweighed by the benefits. My work and life experience enriched my studies, and my studies enriched my work and life. Plus, I was mature enough by then to see the value in formal education and take it seriously, which I know would not have been the case had I taken the traditional college route.” Lora graduated in May of 2017 with High Honors and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. She was awarded the Irving G. Foster Award for Excellence in Overall Academic Achievement, and her writing portfolio, which all graduating students were required to submit, won a Writing Excellence Award (only given for the top 1% of those received). She had come a long way from the little girl who didn’t believe she could have a successful academic career!

From left to right: extern, Lauren, BC lead, Kathryn, and Lora in 2019.

At Eckerd, Lora had taken some law-related classes, which she found fascinating. Though still not comfortable (at all) with public speaking, these classes opened her eyes to some of the many alternative career pathways available to lawyers, and she thought she might like to further pursue those pathways through law school. Unfortunately, upon making this decision, she had to submit her law school application and LSAT without much prep time, and while she was accepted to Stetson University College of Law that first time around, she was not provided a scholarship. Because she wanted to treat herself to “the college experience” for the first time in her life by dedicating 100% of her time to law school, she would have to quit working, and would therefore have no way to pay full tuition. So, she continued to work over the next year, got her LSAT score up, and applied earlier for the following academic year. This time, she was awarded a scholarship and began attending classes.

That’s when GLS was lucky enough to meet her. When dedicated GLS advocate, Pam Dubrule, passed in 2018, GLS began a paid summer internship program for law students to work on birth certificate cases, a project Pam began. In 2019, Lora was the first Pam Dubrule Birth Certificate intern that GLS ever had. She spent her time researching, working directly with clients, notarizing forms, and working closely with birth certificate (BC) program lead, attorney Kathryn Hynes. Lora loved this work and the direct, positive impact it had. She still proudly displays a survey completed by a grateful GLS birth certificate client whose comments section simply reads, “very good. Love you.” Clients loved working with her, and so did the staff.

“Lora brought not only her sparkling personality but also her strong organizational and technology skills, developed as a Human Resources professional prior to her law school studies. Among many other important contributions, Lora assisted the GLS Birth Certificate Program in streamlining our critical petitioning process for clients who’ve never had a birth record created and now need a delayed birth certificate. This is a complex process requiring historical records and proof sources and the skills to present them persuasively to vital records bureaus. Lora’s dedication to presenting the high level of proofs required was exemplary.”

– Kathryn Hynes, BC program manager

We were all sad to see her go after the internship finished but were excited to welcome her back in 2021 through an internship with the family law unit. She says she had “many passions” in law school – environmental law, elder law, and others. She also had an appellate judicial externship with the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court that had a big impact on her. However, mostly, she liked the study of law because she finally felt fulfilled in her work.

Lora graduated cum laude from Stetson in May of 2021, receiving both the William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award and the Suzanne Armstrong Memorial Award. She also received the 2021 Darby Award for her work on Stetson Law Review. Lora took and passed the Florida Bar Exam, and she immediately got a job with the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court in the criminal section, specifically in post-conviction matters. Her job mostly consists of receiving motions from people in prison who think their sentences are illegal. She does a lot of research and writing on their cases, drafting court orders and memoranda of law, and orally advising judges on research. She sees herself as a background player, even though her work has a significant direct impact.

She thinks she will stay in this role for a while. She does miss the interaction she had with clients while in law school but is very happy spend her days researching case facts and writing legal recommendations based on her own analysis and judgment. “I still can’t believe I’m a lawyer,” she says. “I can’t believe I passed the bar.”

We believe it, Lora! Your quiet strength, compassion, and kindness is immediately apparent to anyone you come across. We’re so proud of your successes and are excited to see all the great things you do throughout your career.

Lora and Cortes, her senior feline companion!

 

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