What made you interested taking the Community Advocacy Clinic?
Originally, I had the misconception that the Community Advocacy Clinic only handled family law cases, and I had an interest in family law. It wasn’t until I applied for last spring that I first discovered what we would actually do in the clinic. When I first learned that the clinic would be advocacy through research projects for local nonprofit organizations, I was unsure about whether I wanted to take clinic. However, I realized that there are so few opportunities to have an in-depth understanding of a topic—to become an “expert” about a particular subject. So, that was what made me interested in taking the CAC.
Did your experience match your expectations? Why or why not?
It exceeded my expectations. I learned so much about myself, advocacy for organizations, and how to create change in the community.
What is most rewarding about your clinic experience?
I think the most rewarding part of my experience was producing something that will help create meaningful change in the Oklahoma civil justice system. I had the good fortune of working on a project for the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission with my teammates, Cybil Rajan and Bethany Jackson. We created a report for the Commission that included recommendations for improving access to justice for Oklahomans, and we presented the report to the Commission. That was such a surreal experience.
You graduate in May of this year and have already accepted a job as a Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. How did your clinic experience relate to your job search?
In so many ways, my clinic experience connected me with my future career path. Through our research for the Access to Justice Commission, my project team learned of new ways to deliver legal services to those who may not realize that they can receive help through the courts. By placing an attorney in a location where people commonly experience their problems, lawyers can help connect people with the services available to them. It turns out that Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma has been ahead of the curve with this. I met with the Executive Director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Michael Figgins, and we discussed starting a school-based legal service, which would be a partnership between Legal Aid and a local school with families in need of legal services. I was fortunate to be offered a position at Legal Aid to help get a school-based legal service program started in Oklahoma.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the experience of being a clinic student?
It was the most challenging experience of my law school career, but, without question, the most rewarding. I am incredibly thankful for having had the opportunity to work with and learn from my teammates, the other students in the clinic, and Professor Carpenter.
Do you have advice for those considering taking a clinic?
I had a professional career for two years before entering law school and clerked at a law firm for two summers before taking clinic, but I learned more in the three months in clinic than I did over the previous four years. That is to say, regardless of your professional experience, a clinic is worth taking because it will challenge you to reach your full potential as a professional and prepare you for your career after law school.