The legal clinics at McGeorge School of Law are a great gateway into the real-world aspects of being a lawyer. They allow you to focus on and build the essential skills that encompass the practice of law. Specifically, the Elder and Health Law Clinic (“Elder Clinic”) has given me the necessary foundation a successful attorney should have by allowing me to build my confidence and practice in the real world.
In the fall of 2022, I enrolled in the Elder and Health Social Policy course due to my curiosity in what was referred to as “Elder Law.” It was then that I discovered the vast array of problems the elders in our community face and what we, as lawyers, could do to protect and even prevent some of these abuses. I proceeded to join the Elder Clinic the following semester.
One of the most significant benefits of the Clinic is that it allows you to gain practical experience. The classroom provides a solid theoretical foundation, but only through the Clinic can you apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios. As the Student Attorney of a case, you conduct research, draft legal documents, and participate in client meetings, allowing you to bridge the gap between theory and practice. I was recently afforded the experience of defending my client in a restraining order case in open court before a presiding judge. Students, generally speaking, are not afforded this kind of practical experience at such a level anywhere else.
Also, the Elder Clinic is very legally diverse. Here, you are allowed to handle a variety of cases, ranging from probate litigation, estate planning, financial abuse such as fraud, Social Security issues, and, of course, elder abuse. Further, the fundamental skills of the legal profession, research and writing, are honed as you engage with your cases. You are offered the opportunity to conduct in-depth research, draft legal briefs, and prepare documents for court. These skills are valuable to any successful attorney as they help you enhance your legal judgment.
Finally, the supervising attorneys, Melissa Brown, Lacey Mickleburgh, and John Sims, do an amazing job at guiding us while simultaneously giving us significant freedom to handle our cases as we see fit. This method of supervision promotes the growth of our problem-solving abilities as they relate to case management and the decision-making processes of legal strategies. The supervisors are truly great, dependable teachers who have taught me how to practice law.
The Elder Clinic allows you to enhance both your in-court and out-of-court knowledge, helping you identify your specific interests and strengths. This wide range of experience can help guide your future career choices and specialization, all while you get to help a troubled individual in need. The Elder and Health Law Clinic is where I found my confidence as an aspiring attorney and where I discovered that I wanted to pursue a career in civil litigation.
By Tony Infante, a third-year student at McGeorge School of Law.