Amanda Hollyoak (Class of 2012)
During my first three years of law school I worked full time during the day and took classes at night. It was during this time that I gained practical lawyering skills and became familiar with court procedures while working at a private law firm. I enhanced my skills training in the curriculum by taking simulation courses such as Trial Practice, Contracts Drafting, and Advanced Legal Research. Although I valued what I was learning while working full time, I was anxious to fully immerse myself in immigration and family law and begin my path in public service. I reduced my hours at the law firm and enrolled in the Immigration Law Clinic through the school’s clinic program. With the school’s help, I obtained a clinic placement at a private firm that specializes in immigration law. Through the clinic, I helped a domestic abuse survivor self-petition for permanent residency. I found that working with clients in areas deeply personal to them in order to improve their lives was incredibly motivating.
In addition to working at the immigration firm, I began volunteering with the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. The Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative provides a free clinic once a month for permanent residents who want to become naturalized citizens. I have helped several individuals petition for citizenship through this initiative. It is a joy to experience the permanent residents’ enthusiasm about citizenship. For many becoming a citizen not only recognizes the United States as their permanent home but allows them to reunite with family members whose only hope of immigrating to the United States is through a citizen relative.
After working at the immigration firm through the immigration clinic I obtained a second clinic placement at MetroWest Legal Services (MWLS) through the school’s Family Law Clinic. I was given the opportunity to work with domestic violence survivors on immigration issues and family law matters. It was through this experience that I learned the importance of providing holistic legal public services. Many of the clients I worked with there not only benefitted from assistance with immigration petitions but also through divorcing their abusers, obtaining secure housing, and various other areas necessary to move on with their lives. After my clinic ended I continued volunteering at MWLS and earned the school’s Public Service Ttranscript Notation for my volunteer work.
As a result of the academic and field experience I received through New England Law I now have a broader idea of what I would like to accomplish in my career. I would consider myself successful if I were able to give voice to individuals who were neglected by the legal system and if I could help lift the standard of living for those most vulnerable, whether through safe housing, work authorization, or a divorce.