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Class of 2005
After an eventful, wonderful summer away from a trying first year of law school, I was fully prepared to extend my honeymoon and give up on a law degree. In fact, I spent the first two days of my 2L year on Coronado Island doing just that. But my conscience disagreed and gnawed at me. I decided that if I was going to return, though, I had to adjust my schedule in an effort to tailor my classes to my interests. I reviewed the options and found a class called Lawyering Theory and Practice (“LTP”). It required a prerequisite that I did not have and the class had already met, but the professor, Jennifer Barnes, allowed me to register. That permission set me up for my legal career.
My decision to join the Civil Justice Clinic (“the Clinic”) was based on my experience in LTP, my desire to practice law, as opposed to reading about it, and my desire to help people in need, which is the cornerstone of my practice. LTP ensured me that law school was for me, too, after all and that I was a litigator. And Professor Barnes’s passion and knowledge inspired me. When she informed me that the Clinic was like an advanced LTP with real clients, I jumped at the opportunity. It was the best course I took at ASU in many regards.
During my stint with the Clinic, I had two major cases, both rewarding. The first was a landlord-tenant matter where we represented the defendant landlord who allegedly failed to timely return a security deposit. The second required us to assist a father with a brain tumor and severely affected memory convince the State of California that he had paid off his foster care debt when he could not quite remember all of the details.
The landlord-tenant matter went to trial, where we successfully defended our client and won our counterclaim. As part of that process, our team had to interview our client, research the law, draft legal memoranda, plan our strategy, communicate with the opposing party and our client, prepare for and attend a mediation, draft pleadings and discovery and prepare for and go to trial.
Of course, there was more to the Clinic than just a caseload. There was a class to attend and homework. But the homework was preparing for practical exercises such as taking depositions, admitting evidence, cross-examinations and negotiating a settlement. There was also a staff meeting, where we shared breakfast while providing case status reports and determined whether to take on new cases. But the best part of clinic was the sense of collegiality among the Clinic “firm,” sharing ideas and experiences.
The Clinic provided me with practical, and marketable, experience in almost every way imaginable. From a practical standpoint, the Clinic prepared me for daily life as an attorney: billing, case management, file management, time management (everything takes about twice as long as you plan) and the abundance of paper and copies. From a personal standpoint, I gained confidence in my litigation skills and my ability to manage clients’ cases, which was intimidating, but doable under Professor Barnes’s leadership and confidence in the students. From a hiring standpoint, I had more experience than most 3Ls and meaningful bullet points on my resume.
I continue to make civil justice clinic my top recommendation to all aspiring attorneys for the reasons mentioned above. I maintain wonderful memories and friendships. I credit it as the single reason that I am still a practicing attorney. As an inexperienced associate, the job can be overwhelming at times for a multitude of reasons. The Clinic is my beacon to an ideal practice.