Jennifer McKinnon (Class of 2003)
I spent my first year at New England School of Law volunteering for Shelter Legal Services, providing legal aid to the homeless in the Cambridge area. This experience was invaluable to me because it introduced me to the practical realities of lawyering and gave me the opportunity to work with clients for the first time. It made a huge difference in my first year experience to be able to apply some of the legal skills I was learning. It was also nice to escape the classroom. After working with Shelter Legal Services, I knew that I would continue to work in public interest law.
My second year I took advantage of the environmental law clinic program at New England School of Law and interned with the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in Boston. The Conservation Law Foundation is non-profit, public interest, member-supported environmental advocacy group that works throughout New England. Ironically, this clinic proved to be important for me because, while I had a great experience at CLF, I also realized that environmental law was not something I wanted to practice. This realization allowed me to pursue my other interest, criminal law.
I spent my second summer participating in the New England School of Law honors judicial clerkship program. Through this program, I clerked at the Massachusetts Appeals Court for Justice David A. Mills. During this clerkship, I enjoyed independent research and wrote several memoranda on various issues. This clerkship was an excellent opportunity to take part in the judicial process.
During my third year at New England School of Law I participated in two clinics, the administrative law clinic and the criminal procedure clinic. Through the administrative law clinic, I interned at Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, an organization that provides civil legal services to prisoners in Massachusetts. At MCLS, I participated in the Rapid Response to Brutality Project, where I made prison visits in response to guard-on-prisoner assaults. This clinic gave me the opportunity to learn the workings of Massachusetts' Department of Correction and to develop my client interviewing skills.
I am now participating in the Criminal Procedure clinic, where I am working for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). I spend one day a week in Dorchester District Court. With 3:03 certification, I am representing defendants at arraignment and participating in motion hearings. I spend one other day in the CPCS office, researching cases and assisting attorneys with memoranda.
I am very grateful for NESL's clinic program in public interest law, as it has provided me with invaluable experiences and introduced me to many incredible people. Taking advantage of the clinics is the best decision I made at New England School of Law and I am sure it will assist me in my legal career.