this time each year, my Community Development Law (“CDL”) Clinic students
receive their first client assignments – all community based nonprofit organizations
– and begin planning initial interviews with the organizations’ stakeholders.
As a teacher, I take great satisfaction in watching, and to a certain extent
guiding, as the CDL students become comfortable with interviewing and
their first interviews, they sometimes are overly formal, even stiff. Because
they are nervous, they miss cues from the clients. They fail to follow up on
rich leads and they occasionally forget to ask important questions.
satisfaction as a teacher comes weeks or months later when I observe them
conducting their fourth or fifth client interviews. By then, almost all of them
are comfortable in their own skins. They realize that they don’t have to act
like lawyers they have seen on television: they can just be themselves and rely
on a combination of their humanity, curiosity, and nascent but fast-developing
professional knowledge and judgement.
I debrief with students after those late-in-the-semester interviews, I can hear
the enthusiasm, almost joy, in their voices. They are on their way to becoming
effective lawyers who can help people and make a positive difference in their
communities, and they can feel it.
Posted by Thomas A. Kelley III (Tom) on Thu. September 7, 2017 1:54 PM
Community Development Law Clinic