New England Law | Boston students perform public service work through clinical courses, student groups, and employment, both paid and volunteer.
Students may obtain transcript recognition for approved public service legal work through the Public Service Transcript Notation Program.
I came to law school firmly believing I wanted to practice contract law and never step foot in a courtroom. About a month into first year Contracts, I realized that it was not the field for me. I took some Intellectual Property courses the fall semester of my second year and again, not for me. Friends and other students I knew were all registering for clinic programs and I knew the school encouraged taking at least one clinic before graduating, so I decided to sit in on the clinic informational meeting. I remember listening to a student panel discuss their fears of going to court but how their clinic experiences all helped them overcome these fears and gain practical skills and knowledge, so I decided to give it a try.
I took the Lawyering Process Clinic the spring semester of second year and chose the New England Law | Boston Clinical Law Office, the school’s in-house clinic, for my placement, partly for convenience, but mainly because I heard about the hands on training the supervisors provided each student. This was hands down the best experience I have ever received. All the clients are indigent and while it sounds cliché, you know you are really making a difference. While it can be challenging at times, at the end of the day you feel a sense of accomplishment. The three supervising attorneys are all amazing teachers who guide you in case planning and strategy, while simultaneously giving you the leeway to manage your own case work. I was given two cases to work with throughout the semester and was lucky enough to go to court and argue a case in front of a judge, getting over my fear of going to court while having my supervisor by my side.
I continued to work with the clinical legal office during the following summer as a work-study student. This opportunity gave me the ability to handle a heavier caseload, as well as a variety of cases in Family Law, Social Security, and Unemployment. It also gave me the ability to work with all three supervisors, which was instructive in that they each have their own style and case planning approaches, all very effective but different at the same time. The in-court experience was invaluable, the whole time being supervised so you feel as though you have a safety net around you, yet you are really on your own. Through this experience, I know I want to work in some aspect of Family Law and Public Interest Law, ready to go to court and fight for my clients.
I enjoyed my clinical experience so much that I decided to enroll in the Mediation Resolution Clinic the fall semester of my third year. I was placed with Metropolitan Mediation Services, which is a community based mediation center. MMS gave me a completely different understanding of public interest. They allowed me to take their mediation training program, through which I became a certified mediator and was then able to go to Dorchester Court once every other week and participate in co-mediating small claims cases. The cases ranged from landlord-tenant issues, to consumer cases, to arguments between neighbors and even family members. Helping parties work out their differences on their own terms and really try to get to the core of their problem working together was extremely rewarding.
I am now in my third year at New England Law and am getting ready to graduate and move to Texas to take the Bar. I would highly recommend and advise any incoming or current student at New England Law to take at least one clinical program before graduating. The practical skills and experience alone are invaluable, and in addition, it enhances your resume. Most importantly, clinical programs give students the ability to work with real people and their legal issues hands on, something law school alone does not provide. (March 2010)