As part of my work in the clinic I was able to handle family law cases involving victims of domestic violence. For instance, I was able to work on a joint petition for divorce, and it was through that experience that I learned to deal directly with unrepresented parties. It was a great experience that sharpened my ethical skills as a budding attorney and exposed me to something that is very common in the area of public interest law.
My best experience during this time was probably working with my main client, a domestic abuse victim who was struggling to maintain custody of her young son. Her traumatic past made her behavior sometimes erratic and difficult to deal with. Nevertheless, she was a resilient, resourceful, caring young mother. Through my representation of her I strengthened my written and oral advocacy skills and better understood both the impact of domestic abuse and the proper legal mechanisms for addressing its symptoms.
It was my time spent working with this woman at the in-house clinic that really solidified my desire to continue working in public interest, particularly in the area of family law and domestic violence. I was even able to continue my work in this field during the summer of my 2L year by working in the Family Law Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services, in a paid position through the federal work-study program. This is an opportunity I would not have had if I did not have the experience that the Public Interest Clinic provided for me.
My second clinical experience was when I signed up for the Criminal Procedure II clinic, in the fall semester of my third year. I was placed at the Boston Municipal Court with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Through my work in this clinic I was able to represent the office in criminal matters before the court. My employer gave me significant responsibility and a lot of control over my own cases. I was able to represent the office in everything from arraignments to plea negotiations and even composed an Opposition to a Motion for New Trial, which I argued before a judge. This clinic was instrumental in not only exposing me to this new area of law, but also in improving my confidence in my ability to manage cases on my own. It was another great clinic experience I would highly recommend.
As a 3L I am finishing my time at New England Law in the Tax Clinic with Professor Frank Scharaffa. It is another great opportunity for me to gain experience in an entirely new area of law. This clinic is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to improve my legal writing skills while I learn what it is like to practice in the area of tax law.
All in all, my experience with the New England Law Clinical Program has been absolutely wonderful. The program has an amazing staff that provided me with endless amounts of support and advice as I gained immeasurable confidence in my abilities as a future attorney. I highly recommend the clinical program at New England Law to any student who not only wants to experience what it is like to practice in public interest law, but also to anyone who wants to acquire skills and experiences that will serve them immensely as a young attorney. The program has opened many doors for me and I will be forever grateful for its impact on my law school experience.