What is your current job (title and employer)?
I am an Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Texas.
What made you interested taking the Community Advocacy Clinic?
I became interested in taking a clinic course during my first year of law school. One of the main questions people in my class were asking was, “What needs to be on my resume to become employed?” The resounding response from the faculty was that employers loved to see clinic experience. The Community Advocacy Clinic particularly appealed to me because I had never had the opportunity to help someone in a practical, real-life way while simultaneously building my own resume and earning class credit.
Did your experience match your expectations? Why or why not?
The experience exceeded my expectations. I tend to be skeptical of everything, and the first few weeks of clinic, when I realized that I actually had to participate in discussions, and lay out my thought processes for certain projects was a bit of a shock. However, as the semester progressed I realized the value of taking the time to think through arguments, and began to see how my audience was perceiving me instead of just assuming that I was coming through loud and clear. We all have skills that we need to improve, whether we realize it or not, and participating in clinic highlights your strengths and weaknesses, making you much more aware of yourself and your abilities.
How did your experience in the Community Advocacy Clinic prepare you for your current job?
My current job is very time sensitive. I currently have around 50 open cases, and there are some weeks when I will have five deadlines in federal court. In law school, the majority of classes only grade you on your final exam, and aside from showing up to class, nothing is time sensitive. However, in clinic, there are a lot of working timelines, and it is imperative that you complete projects within a certain time frame in order to meet your goals. No matter what kind of law you practice, time management will be critical, and clinic really develops that skill, even in people who already seem to be masters of it.
Did your experience in the clinic play any role in helping you get your first job out of law school/current job?
The clinic played a huge role in helping me get my job. When I began job hunting I was able to apply for a wide variety of jobs because there was always something I had done in clinic, whether it be keeping a time sheet or meeting with clients, that I could use as relevant experience; and when my current employer asked me “describe a situation” type of questions during my job interview, I had a semesters worth to draw from. Plus, my clinic professor got to know me on a deeper level than any other professor since she spent so much time with me, and being able to use her as a reference was invaluable.
What did you achieve while you were a student in the Community Advocacy Clinic?
I achieved several goals while participating in the clinic. First and foremost, I was able to represent my client in court and secure a protective order for her. I also successfully worked in a group where everyone had very different personalities, and strengths and weaknesses, in order to publish a report on debtor’s prisons in Tulsa County, which was talked about on public radio. Personally, I learned how important patience is while working in a group setting, and that everyone has strengths that they can contribute, you just have to dig a little deeper sometimes.
Any advice for soon-to-be TU graduates?
If you are considering moving to a new state after graduation, the time period between graduation and passing the bar is critical to finding employment. I made the decision to move to Austin a few months before graduation and was advised against it because the legal market is so saturated, and I did not know anyone. However, I was offered a job just a few weeks after bar results were released. You only need to find one job, and if you are willing to put in the time to prove yourself, you will land a great position, no matter where you decide to live.