Sean Kelley (Class of 2009)
The clinic is the most important “class” I had at New England Law | Boston.
I say that without hesitation. I would advise all incoming students to take advantage of the opportunity that is our school’s clinic. The three supervising attorneys are incredible. Professor Engler is great during the public interest law class that was attached to the clinic when I did it. He is very approachable and is becoming a prominent figure in the fight for civil Gideon. At the front desk, Maria is very fun to be around and is a pleasure to talk to.
Beyond the people you could work with are the people you will represent. You will be your client’s attorney. The supervising attorneys constantly review your work product, and they have to sign-off on any and everything before it is sent out, but other than that you are the attorney. You hold the initial client counseling/intake meeting. You talk to your client when she/he calls. You go to court. You write the motions. You are the attorney.
Most of law school is a lesson in the abstract. The study of law is so diverse that class only offers an introduction to law. In class you learn the theory behind the law. You learn how to learn the law. In the real world we end up in different states and practice under different laws so it is likely that many law school classes will not be directly applicable to your ability to practice law. The clinic is different though.
I am not going to stay in Massachusetts after I graduate and I am not going to start out in public interest law. That said, the clinic remains the highlight of my law school career because it provided the building blocks to becoming a real lawyer. If law school teaches you the law, the clinic teaches you how to use and practice the law. I cannot stress its value enough.
If you want to do public interest law, family law, or disability law then it would be incredibly foolish not to come to New England Law and learn from our clinical professors. If you do not want to practice in the areas of law I mentioned above, but do want to practice law in another field, then it would be equally foolish not to enroll in our clinical program.
I first worked at the clinic in the fall of my 2L year. During that semester, I had my first ever clients, went to my first court appearance, negotiated my first agreement, and shared my first exchanges with opposing counsel.
In the summer following my 2L year, I was hired by the clinic to handle the summer caseload. The fact that I came back to the clinic for a second go around should show how strongly I feel that it helps develop one’s lawyering skills.
After the bar I will head back to California. My desire to excel as a trial attorney began during my first court experiences at the clinic. I do not yet know if I will practice civil or criminal law but I do know that the comfort and confidence I now possess as a lawyer-to-be began at the clinic. For that, I owe the clinic staff and the school my utmost gratitude.