Students in Summer Community Lawyering Clinic “protect a slice of justice”
July 18, 2017 - Audrey Jaramillo
Students learn to think and practice like a lawyer in the UNM Law School’s required six credit-hour Clinical Program.
In each of the six Clinic sections, students represent actual clients with supervision by tenured and tenure-track faculty.
The Community Lawyering Clinic provides direct legal representation to address a broad range of legal issues including housing, domestic violence, immigration status and alleged juvenile delinquency.
“I've watched my whole cohort grow and dig deep to deliver results, even for clients we'll only know for a little while. Law school is challenging, but knowing that you've done your best to protect a slice of justice (and justness), is rewarding. The Clinic has been a challenge, and not every day has been a cakewalk, but I do feel more inspired, and courageous, about practicing law after my summer in the Clinic.”
Deian McBryde (’18) is participating in the Community Lawyering Clinic this summer, and he describes his experience and how it helped him grow professionally below.
What have you enjoyed so far in your experience with clinic?
As a law student, it has been exciting to go beyond the case books and the lectures. I like learning practical, vocational skills and how to help real people find workable solutions to legal issues. I've had a chance to work on cases dealing with family law, juvenile delinquency, and immigration.
What challenges have you experienced in the clinic?
Law school can be scary, especially if you're a non-traditional student who doesn't memorize the way you did in your 20s. But in the Clinic, you see that it is OK if you don't know all of the answers; the information is out there, and you have the time to find it. Sure, it's thrilling to recite a statute, or the obscure civil procedures rule, but it's so satisfying to read the law with context, trying to understand it for a greater purpose than an exam, and knowing that I'm providing my best counsel to a client in an actual situation.
In what ways has this specific clinic been beneficial to you?
The Community Lawyering Clinic has been great because I can work on some family law issues, such as guardianship and divorce, but I also get to see other cases involving things like public housing, juvenile delinquency, and immigration.
I'm drawn to Family Law because I think helping people find solutions to domestic problems is essential for a healthier society. The Clinic is a chance to move beyond the case books and lectures to get to the practical effect of the law on a client's life. The rules of each practice area might be different, but the fundamental skills from school are a great start to solving real problems for real people, regardless of the kind of case.