Tamra Meisheid (Class of 2001)
After graduating and passing the bar exam, I was offered a position as an attorney with the AmeriCorps National Service Legal Corps. As one of only 51 AmeriCorps attorneys nationwide, I work in the Domestic Violence Project hosted by Western MA Legal Services to provide representation to victims of domestic violence in the Probate & Family Courts and District Courts. My responsibilities also include serving on various DV Taskforces, and working closely with area shelters to provide community education and support services. In addition to my caseload, I am currently working on a manual for shelter staff and advocates who are not attorneys which would address the financial fallout issues faced by survivors of domestic violence. The purpose is not only to help women plan how to leave their abusers, but also how to stay out of the abusive relationships by obtaining their own financial independence.
As part of the Lawyering Process Clinic, Family Law Clinic, and as a work-study student during law school, I represented indigent clients in court under SJC Rule 3:03 for two semesters and one summer at the NESL Legal Services Clinical Law Office. These clinics provided me with a glimpse of what my life would be like as an attorney. I also took the MA Practice Clinic to give me an idea of what life was like behind the bench as a student law clerk for the Suffolk Superior Court. And, during my last semester I was placed at the MA Department of Retardation as part of the Mental Health Law Clinic, which showed me the inner workings of a government agency. I was immediately attracted to the NESL clinical law program due to my service learning experience as an undergraduate at Rockford college. As president of the RC Volunteer Service Corps, I also served as a student board member the Illinois Campus Compact for Community Service and the RC Service Learning Board. My four years as an advocate for service learning in the classroom showed my the immeasurable benefits of an education enriched with community outreach opportunities. At NESL, I found the clinical law program to be the best and most important experience of my law school education. Now as a practicing attorney, I look back on my clinical experiences with fondness and gratitude because the practical experience and personal career counseling I received made the transition from student to attorney a smooth and very confident one.