I was the typical, average, student at New England School of Law, with no legal experience. My summer internship after first year was interesting but I still did not have the skills to be a lawyer. I actually began to second-guess my decision to become a lawyer instead of a pastry chef. That is, however, until I took the Public Interest Clinic and Seminar in my second year. I worked at the New England School of Law’s Clinical Law Office, the in-house clinic. My supervisor as well as the other attorneys were amazing mentors. Although the first few weeks were terrifying because I had to interview potential clients and began to get my very own clients, the routine soon set in and I actually began to feel as if I could be a lawyer, enjoy it, and help people. The Public Interest Clinic gave me a great foundation for the Lawyering Process Clinic, which I took my last semester in law school.
The Lawyering Process is the perfect way to introduce students to life as a lawyer and really prepare them for their future. I once again became confident that I chose the right career path and even felt that I could do this for the rest of my life. On the Lawyering Process, I interned at Greater Boston Legal Services in the Housing Unit. Every attorney I worked with was incredibly talented. My supervisor and I were the perfect fit. I was able to work on my own with the confidence that if I needed her, she would be there to help. She entrusted me with client after client and I really began to feel like an attorney and not just an intern. I was able to do things in this clinic that I would have never been able to do in a normal firm environment. As a student attorney, certified under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03 certified, I was able not only to draft a motion, but sign it and file it as well. I was able to represent my clients in court and negotiate with opposing attorneys. My job mostly entailed preventing my clients from being evicted. I was required to go above and beyond the ‘typical’ duties of a lawyer. This clinic taught me that being a lawyer sometimes entails more than motions, agreements, and arguments. I contacted charities for rental assistance, worked with a hoarding task force to get services for one client, worked closely with social workers…the list goes on. This clinic was the perfect closing to my law school career. I finally feel confident to go into the workforce. I know how to be a lawyer because I experienced it first-hand. I didn’t read about it in class, I didn’t hear about it from a professor or my boss, I lived it. I helped people and it was an amazing feeling.
I would recommend a clinic in public interest above any other. It is the one place to get true experience. Most students feel unprepared when they graduate or scared to appear in court for the first time. You can get all your fears out while still in school with the benefit of an experienced supervisor at your side. If there is one class to take during law school, it should be the Lawyering Process or Public Interest Clinic – but of course, preferably both.