Lucy Cheung (Class of 2008)
My interest in the study of law can be traced back to the immigration of my family to the United States from Hong Kong when I was 13. Even at a young age, I had a vague sense that a better understanding of the law and the opportunities it provides would have been beneficial to my family as we began our new life in this country. Because of my personal experience, I wanted to go to a law school that would provide me with the tools to contribute to indigenous and minority representation. Through the public interest courses, clinics and student groups at New England School of Law, I have accomplished my goal and more.
During my first year, I joined several student groups in search of an opportunity to volunteer. The one group that stood out for me was the National Lawyers Guild. I felt welcomed at the group's general meetings and was attracted to the Street Law Clinics that they coordinated. The Street Law Clinics are community projects initiated by the Boston National Lawyers Guild chapter in which student lawyers lead trainings at shelters and community centers in teaching indigenous and underrepresented people about their civil rights under the law in Massachusetts. I was impressed by the progressiveness of the group. And as a first-year law student, this was the only place where I could begin seeing the impact of public interest law on real-life people. Additionally, the executive board welcomed my help in bringing a successful panel to the law school about prostitution and its influence on civil rights and criminal issues. Through the National Lawyers Guild, I honed my skill in networking and experienced how law effects the low-income population first hand. In addition to participation in student groups, I also volunteered in the Big Sister, Little Sister program. I visited my little sister every week and facilitated conversations as to her life goals and her progress in school.
The summer after my first year, I worked as an intern at the Suffolk Probate and Family Court. I provided assistance to many people who have limited understanding of the legal field and are trying to resolve their problems by representing themselves in litigation. My interaction with those people gave me an insight into what they need to better help themselves and what the government could do to make that legal process easier.
One of the main reasons I chose to come to New England School of Law was the variety of clinical course offered. When the chance to take a clinical course opened, I registered for the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic course right away. I learned invaluable experience in legal representation and legal writing and research by working with one of the in-house clinical supervisors. Working in the capacity of a student attorney under SJC Rule 3:03 provided me with opportunities to represent actual clients in front of a Social Security Administration Judge and Judges of the Family and Probate Court. I learned to work diligently with various kinds of clients, court officers, attorneys and fellow students while fulfilling my responsibilities as a student attorney.
Taking the skills I have learned from the New England School of Law in-house clinic and as one of the recipients for the Public Interest Law Association Grant offered by NESL, I applied for an internship position at the Asian Outreach Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) for my second summer, and was accepted. The knowledge I acquired from the New England School of Law in-house clinic gave me the tools to handle the high volume of clients GBLS encounters. I provided in-depth and quick-answer research for staff attorneys, in addition to conducting community outreach and intakes at community centers.
In order to take advantage of the variety of clinical experiences New England School of Law have to offer, I took the Land Use Clinic in the fall semester of my third year and the Lawyering Process Clinic in the spring semester. In the Land Use Clinic, I gained practical knowledge in land use and property law by accompanying my supervisor to court and real estate closings. I returned to Greater Boston Legal Services for my Lawyering Process placement during my last semester. I continued to polish my lawyering and inter-personal skills as a future lawyer through these clinics.
My experiences from clinical courses, student groups and summer internships have given me the tools to become an effective and competent lawyer who can take on future challenges for her public interest clients. I would highly recommend New England School of Law to those who are interested in a career in public interest law because of what it offers.