I joined the Elder and Health Law Clinic at McGeorge School of Law to get a better idea as to what kind of law I’d like to do after law school. I heard from others what their experience was like, and my experience has been similar. The Elder and Health Law Clinic lets you delve into a variety of different issues, whether it’s probate, estate planning, contracts, elder abuse, or other issues. You get thrown into the deep end, knowing nothing, and you slowly build a foundation of knowledge to work with. Over the summer, I got to learn how to write up elder abuse restraining orders, research some novel legal issues, and familiarize myself with the general administrative practices that a lawyer partakes in.
I was given six cases during the summer, a lot of which no work had been done on previously. I was meeting the client, getting to know them, and learning what issues they needed to have solved. The Clinic pushes you to be a lawyer. You do have supervisors who supervise your work, but they don’t just hand you the answers. Senior Staff Attorney Lacey Mickleburgh and Professor Melissa Brown will help you when you need it and are excellent teachers, but they don’t hold your hand which is what makes the Clinic such a great learning environment. You’re building the case, and you’re the one acting as the lawyer. The supervisors are just there as the bumpers in a bowling alley, so that you don’t fall into the gutter.
So, not only did I learn about different areas of the law while working at the Clinic, but I’ve gotten a good taste as to what it means to be a lawyer and the kind of work I’d be doing in any law firm or law office. Further, the work is fulfilling. It’s great work experience that has taught me a lot, and it makes me feel good while doing it. The people that come into our office are always grateful for our assistance, even when it hurts us to tell them that we can’t help them. That is sadly what happens a lot. Their issue is just too big for the Clinic to handle or it’s beyond our scope of representation. Yet, the people are still grateful because you took the time out of your day to listen when no one else would. There is no greater feeling than when you help a client who had no one else to turn to. It does make the work a bit stressful, but that’s why it’s meaningful: You are working with real people, with real legal issues, and you might be the only one who can help them.
I recommend anyone who has the opportunity — to give the Elder and Health Law Clinic a try — especially if you want that real-world lawyering experience while doing some fulfilling work that makes you feel good.
By Ismat Dajani, a third-year student at McGeorge School of Law.