Clinics afford students valuable legal experience
“I don’t know why anyone would want to graduate law school without having taken a clinic,” said Christiane Rossi, 3L.
The Virgil D. Hawkins Civil Clinics at the Levin College of Law are substantial learning experiences that afford students the opportunity to gain valuable legal experience with real people and real cases.
Most clinics offer Certified Legal Internship (CLI) for client representation under the Student Practice Rule. CLI status can be recertified for up to 12 months to allow graduates working in certain public sector jobs to represent clients while studying for the Bar.
Rossi fought to get in the IPVAC (Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic) not only because of the experience of the clinic, but also because of her life experiences as a domestic violence survivor.
Rossi is not shy about her life experiences, and also has a son with autism. He is 15, and she has been fighting to protect him and his rights his whole life, she said.
“He is the reason I wanted to go to law school. I came to law school because I wanted to be an advocate for children. I have not lost sight of that goal,” she said.
Rossi appreciates that the clinics offer clients in need an opportunity for legal representation and advice, and the opportunity for students to experience face-to-face interaction with clients who are able to communicate to students their struggles, passions, secrets and goals.
“I have had a really full law school experience,” said Rossi, who has had externship and volunteer experience. “I can honestly say that the clinic experience is the closest to actual practice, and I feel the best way to prepare for actual practice.”
Rossi said that in an externship, a student only gets to observe, and maybe participate minimally to get an understanding of the practice of law.
“But in a clinic, the clients are yours. You work with real people with real problems, and the consequences for a lack of preparation are not only yours,” she said.
“The knowledge we learn in the classroom is important, and it is in the clinics that we truly see if we can apply that knowledge to actual practice,” she said. “As I come close to graduating, I feel comfortable with getting a job and practicing right out of law school.”
To learn more about the clinics, visit http://www.law.ufl.edu/centers/hawkins/.