Holly Zappa (Class of 2009)
I would highly recommend the clinical program to any student at New England Law | Boston. The program enabled me to gain a greater perspective on law school, one that extended beyond the classroom, and provided me with invaluable work experience.
Having attended an undergraduate university that strongly encouraged campus participation and volunteerism, the clinical program immediately appealed to me as a hands-on way to learn the law and assist others. After my first year of law school, I decided to enroll in the Public Interest Clinic. I chose the Public Interest Clinic because I was advised that it is the best way to ensure client interaction and a chance to serve as a student attorney in a hearing or trial. Being interested in a career as a civil litigator, the clinic enabled me to combine my desire to help others with my desire to gain exposure to the functions and duties typically associated with trial attorneys.
I began the Public Interest Clinic at the start of my second year, working three days a week at the New England Law Clinical Law Office (Office) located short distance from my classrooms. During the course of the semester, I assisted four clients on issues of Social Security and unemployment benefits. Although the needs and circumstances of each client varied, my duties typically involved meeting with the client for a preliminary interview, reviewing the client’s documents, requesting discovery, and drafting and submitting complaints. I also had the opportunity to represent a client in a hearing at the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). During my time at the Office I learned to rely on myself and draw from the knowledge I had gained from my 1L courses such as Civil Procedure and Legal Research & Writing. In this capacity, the clinical program provided me with yet another opportunity to gain valuable real world work experience.
Having thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Office, I decided to explore other options within the clinical program. Before the conclusion of the fall semester of my second year, I sought and obtained a position as an intern with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Boston Area Office. I had just completed a course in Employment Law and figured that working at the federal agency would be a good way to expand my knowledge in that field. I subsequently enrolled in the Administrative Law Clinic and the requisite Administrative Law course. At the EEOC, I assisted trial attorneys by reviewing case files, drafting questions on direct for expert witnesses, conducting legal research, and summarizing depositions. Further, I assisted investigators by conducting phone interrogatories of potential witnesses, summarizing workforce statistics, and writing reports of my findings. Though it differed greatly from my time at the Office, my experience at the EEOC enabled me to apply my skills and knowledge in a real workplace environment.
The value of New England Law | Boston’s clinical program is indeed personal – it helped solidify my interest in trial practice and reminded me of the big picture perspective, something that is often easy to forget in the day-to-day experience as a law student. The value of the clinical program is also undoubtedly practical – I gained real work experience, and indicated so on my résumé. When I interviewed for summer positions at law firms and agencies, I could discuss not only my 1L summer employment, but also the two clinical programs, offering very real and specific examples my work experiences.