Paula D. O'Gilvie (Class of 2005)
The experiences of my mother and her interactions with the law initiated my interest in the law. Her limited understanding of the law helped me focus on becoming a lawyer and doing public interest law. For as long as I can remember, others have taken advantage of my mother on numerous occasions. When I was 15 my mother almost lost our house to her boyfriend. She sought help from a lawyer, but the attorney realized her could also take advantage of her and did so. If she had known of the existence of free legal services, designed to assist the elderly, she would have been spared the loss of money and heartache.
Since attending New England School of Law and participating in two clinics I really feel that providing a service to the people who cannot afford legal services is the work that I was meant to do. In the clinics (Public Interest Law and Lawyering Process) I had the opportunity to work with indigent clients and victims of domestic abuse. The circumstances were sad and I instantly felt as if I had to help. One of the cases I worked on involved a person trying to have unemployment checks reinstated. The check amount was less than 150 dollars for the month and it meant survival to this person. The check had to cover food, clothing and shelter. I was stunned that a company would seek to deny this person that check.
In the Lawyering Process clinic I chose to work at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) which can trace its public interest services to 1900. At GBLS, I immediately received my own caseload and represented women who were victims of domestic abuse. I was able to appear in court and helped a woman get a divorce from her abusive husband.
I would suggest to any future or current New England School of Law students that they take advantage of the clinics. The experience is invaluable and the professors in the clinic are committed to providing you with all the help you need to practice in this field.