Now I Understand Why To Take a Clinic

Going into the Housing and Community Development Legal Clinic, I wanted to try something different. At an early DePaul alumni event I asked lawyers, “if you had to do law school all over again, what would you do?” An overwhelming number of lawyers said they would take a legal clinic course. At the time, I didn't know what a legal clinic course was or why the lawyers said to take it. Now I am beginning to understand.

After my first two years of law school, I felt like I was in the same position as my junior year of college. “I am almost done with my degree, but I haven’t done enough to translate that school work to real world application.” I have completed multiple internships ranging from working with a senator to working with Fortune 500 companies. While in law school, I worked for a mid size firm and did an externship for a judge. Still, none of this is like having your own client.

As a student, you are told what to do. As an intern, you are told what to do. As a student in a clinic, the client tells you what it wants. It is the student’s job to find out what that means. Unlike in class, the problem your client wants solved does not have a perfect answer. It is frustrating because everything a student has learned so far tells them there is a perfect answer. Welcome to the real world.

It feels strange typing this, but now I am the lawyer. Instead of the person taking notes in the meeting, I am the one leading it. The role change is scary. I have a strong sense of responsibility to my client, which I can't say I ever had before. For the next nine months, I hope to gain a different experience. One that will challenge me, teach me how to interact with clients, and most importantly prepare me to become a better lawyer.  

Why did the new lawyers suggest taking a law school clinic? The obvious answer is that it's the first time you are the lawyer. However, it is much more than that. It teaches you the real truth: there is rarely a right answer. For me, that is exciting.