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.