Clinics 2

Top Questions About Law Clinics – Part 2

In Part 1 of this topic, we covered some of the basics about law clinics at Quinnipiac Law: what they are, the legal practice areas you can choose from, and why law students in Connecticut may have an advantage in gaining practical experience.

If you missed that email, you can find the content here: QU Law Connect: Prospective Student Portal

Below, we take a look at the skills you will acquire working in a clinic, the clients you will work with, the opportunities for public policy work, and your home base at Quinnipiac Law as a clinic student.

What will I learn during a law clinic?

You will learn a tremendous amount – and you will learn much of it by doing, under the guidance of your supervising Quinnipiac Law faculty member. Through your clinic experience, for example, you will build skills in interviewing clients by connecting in person and gathering information. You will conduct legal research by doing just that – discerning the important questions and uncovering crucial details. You will learn how the courts work by working with the courts, meeting real deadlines and learning to understand procedures and manage your workflow and pace.

The range of skills you can develop – interviewing and counseling clients, preparing witnesses, researching and fact-gathering, planning case strategy, negotiating, mediating, oral advocacy, legal writing and drafting, preparing for court appearances – are tremendously valuable. So, too, are the intangibles you will gain through your clinic work: professional judgment, practical experience, a problem-solving orientation, confidence, network-building.

You will also connect with faculty and fellow clinic students in weekly seminars during your clinic semesters, an opportunity to debrief on your cases and benefit from shared learning and insights.

Employers will take notice. Even if you do not go into the practice area of your clinic focus, they will know that you have built fundamental lawyering skills and developed these valuable qualities. More than just a resume-builder, clinic participation will provide you with background and perspective gained through real experience as you step out into your career having spent time doing what lawyers and mediators actually do, day to day.

Where do clinic clients come from?

Clinic clients come from the area and are generally low- and moderate-income individuals for whom access to an attorney would be financially out of reach. The range of cases within the clinics encompasses the kinds of life events and issues experienced by people from all walks of life – civil disputes, employment issues, family matters, housing instability, tax problems, wage disputes. They often spotlight problems experienced more acutely by those without a safety net – immigration status, lack of access to health care, discrimination, exploitation.

Our students tell us that one of the most rewarding aspects of working within the clinic is knowing that you are helping to provide access to justice to individuals, families, and communities who may otherwise find the door to legal representation closed to them.

In that sense, the concept of “making a difference” transcends being just a goal and becomes a reality. You will make a difference.

I’m interested in impacting public policy more broadly. Can I do that in a clinic?

Yes! Within our Civil Justice Clinic, our largest clinic, students and supervising attorneys take on individual cases, community education, and policy work that impact their areas of focus.

What does it mean to engage in policy work? It might mean working with organizations and legislative committees to draft proposed legislation, writing and delivering testimony before the state legislature, collaborating with groups and agencies with similar goals. It definitely means building core skills and developing expertise in public advocacy: researching, writing, public speaking, consensus building, and collaborating across teams in order to effect policy change on behalf of disadvantaged communities.

Quinnipiac Law’s Civil Justice Clinic in particular has distinguished itself as a force for public advocacy within the state and beyond. Civil Justice Clinic students have affected the course of legislation and policy across a range of issues, including death penalty abolition, gender identity protection, voting rights, and human trafficking awareness and prevention.

I understand that a clinic is a course. But is it also a place?

It is! The term clinic refers not only to individual clinics, but to the space where these clinics are housed called the Legal Clinic, the separate section within the law school designated for confidential clinic work – and your home base as a clinic student.

We are very proud of the Quinnipiac Legal Clinic. It was reimagined and designed in 2014, an important part of our new School of Law Center. The Legal Clinic features client consultation rooms, meeting rooms, seminar rooms, and 40 student workstations (you will have your own workspace while working in the clinic).

It is also where you will find the dedicated clinic faculty – experienced law professors whose primary focus is supervising clinic students – as well as full-time clinic support staff who assist with client administrative matters. Their offices are within the Legal Clinic space itself.

When you are in the Legal Clinic offices, you get the sense you are in a professional setting because it functions as one – like a law firm within the law school. Clients are treated with the same respect, privacy, and attention as they would in the outside legal world, and clinic students have the same support and tools– and approach the work with the same level of seriousness – as they would in any professional office.

Remember, every Quinnipiac Law student is guaranteed a meaningful practical experience in our externship program or through our law clinics.

For more about law clinics at Quinnipiac Law, visit the website here. Interested in furthering the conversation? Drop us an email us at law@qu.edu.

Continue to Externships Part 1

 

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Quinnipiac University
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370 Bassett Road
North Haven, CT 06473-4201

(203) 582-3400
Email: law@qu.edu
Web: law.qu.edu



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