The best decision I have made this year was to take the Landlord-Tenant Practicum. I have received practical experience with landlord tenant laws, contract law, evidence rules, client counseling, and trial litigation. I am one of those law students who have no clue what type of law I want to practice, so I decided to enroll in the clinical so that I would have the chance to go to trial as a law student and decide if it is something I want to do with my career.
The practicum, which works with low-income tenants, has given me a lot of practical experience as I have worked with other attorneys to draft settlements and conduct client interviews and counseling, all under the direction of a supervisor. I have been thrown into situations where tenants need immediate help, such as getting water shut off in the freezing weather while having small children at the house. While there is a lot of pressure, my work has a big, direct impact on my clients’ lives. I am being helped by the supervisor so that I am learning from my errors before they can hurt my clients.
Though I have only been in the [racticum for a few weeks, the highlight so far was definitely this week when I was put on a case that went to trial! I spent hours preparing my direct, the evidence, and counseling the clients with another law student. After all of the difficult work, we entered the courtroom, sat down with the other attorneys, and when our case came up we actually litigated the trial. I was in charge of the direct, so I was questioning my clients on the witness stand and admitting evidence. It was so exciting! I truly felt like a lawyer and that the work I was doing in law school was actually coming together. What made the experience even more memorable was that we won the case . . . two second-year law students on their first trial were able to win against another experienced attorney who has a high success rate! We even received compliments from other attorneys in the courtroom who observed the trial!
It is also great knowing that the work I did has saved my clients hundreds of dollars, which can go a long way for those who are in need. Because of the landlord-tenant practicum, I am able to tell potential job employers that I have litigated in an actual trial and won!
The Landlord-Tenant Practicum is run in conjunction with Mid-Missouri Legal Services. They are looking for students for this summer and next year. Check Symplicity for the job posting. Also stop by their table at the Small Firm and Career Expo tomorrow.