Erin Wilson and Ryan Collins working at the Swain County Courthouse.
Civil Clinic in Swain
For the civil clinic, I traveled with half of the UNC Law
students to Swain County. We worked in teams to complete divorce documents and
help clients with criminal expungements.
During the day, my partner and I worked with two clients. One
client was seeking a divorce. Because the client had not been separated from
her spouse for the amount of time required in North Carolina, she was not able
to officially file for divorce, but we were able to help her fill out accurate
divorce paperwork. We could sense the weight lifted off of her shoulders after
having completed the paperwork. Some clients that were there had been separated
from their partners for over ten years but had not had the means or time to
actually file for divorce. It was a meaningful experience to be able to help
clients in a process that can be overwhelming.
We also helped a client with criminal expunctions. The
criminal expunctions were one of the things I enjoyed working on the most
because even criminal charges that have been dismissed still show up on
background checks. Helping expunge records can open doors for clients that
otherwise would be prevented from renting a house or getting hired for a job.
On the third day of the trip, we participated in a wills
clinic at a local senior center, helping supervising attorneys draft wills,
power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney documents.
Even though it was daunting to prepare these important
documents for clients, the support from my partner and the supervising
attorneys made the task much more manageable. It was a methodical process
filling out the documents, but we wanted to make sure that we captured the
clients’ wishes precisely and in a way that would be legally binding. It also
gave us the chance to learn about the clients’ families and life in Cherokee. I
felt good knowing that I had hopefully left our clients with a greater peace of
In addition to the clinics, our trip coordinators made sure
we got to take full advantage of being in Cherokee. We got to tour the Cherokee
tribal court. It was cool getting to learn the differences and similarities
between the Cherokee legal system and the U.S. legal system. One thing I
noticed was how much the judges there love the work they are doing. We also got
to visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. We could have spent hours there but
even though we were short on time, I learned so much about the Cherokee history
Posted by Allison Standard Constance on Tue. January 8, 2019 3:43 PM
Winter Break 2018