Miami Law continues its tradition of providing a training ground for future attorneys by offering students the opportunity to participate in a variety of on-campus clinics over the summer. The Children and Youth Law Clinic, Health and Elder Law Clinic, Immigration Clinic, and Human Rights Clinic all give service-oriented Miami Law students a chance to practice hands-on lawyering with real clients.
"The Clinic's human rights litigation and advocacy don't always follow the rhythms of the semester, so we need interns to keep things moving forward in the summer," Human Rights Clinic director Caroline Bettinger-Lopez says.
Over the summer, students in the various clinics will work on a range of legal issues, like helping low-income, elderly clients in the Health & Elder Law Clinic; working on active human rights cases and projects in the Human Rights Clinic; or representing children in foster care in the Children & Youth Law Clinic.
Lindsey Grossman, a Children & Youth Law Clinic student, has wanted the opportunity to get hands-on experience with children's rights since her undergraduate years. "When I was in college at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club with elementary school children. Through that experience, I witnessed the hardships that children face as a result of their family situations," Lindsey says. "No matter how hard I tried to make their after-school program a happy time, I was powerless when it came to the actual problems that they faced. This summer I finally have a chance to give back and make a difference."
The law students all filled out applications during the school year to work in the clinics over the summer, similar to the way in which students obtain most internships. The students can only work in one summer clinic at a time. Once accepted, all participants are required to sign a commitment letter detailing their responsibilities towards clinic clients, who do not receive a lesser degree of professionalism just because the students are not actual attorneys yet.
"I was particularly drawn to the Human Rights Clinic because it is one of the best – if not only – forum in which a student such as myself can gain real life exposure to the structure of the international rights system and how to efficiently use this system to advocate for clients," Rachel Oostendorp, a Human Rights Clinic student, says.
Many students, like Health & Elder Law Clinic student Stephanie Stein, had no plans of entering the public interest field after graduation, but chose to use this summer as an introduction to a different side of the law.
"I came to Miami with the plan to go into corporate law, so I wanted to take this summer to work in a field completely unrelated to what I am interested in pursuing, to ensure that I am making the right decision for me and to ensure that I have the opportunity to learn about all areas of legal work," Stein says. "I have some experience with social security work, although on the defense side, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about different areas of legal work, give back to my community and gain practical experience."
Other students, like Farrah Elchahal of the Human Rights Clinic, took the opportunity to work with real clients as a way to broaden the scope of her legal studies.
"My goal for the summer in working with the Clinic is to build on the lawyering and advocacy skills I gained during the semester and develop others that my projects required me to apply to a lesser degree," Elchahal says." I hope to enhance and develop these skills while also advancing the work of the clinic and integrating new projects such as those that focus on Arab and Muslim human rights issues."
Whatever their reasons for joining a clinic over the summer, most students can agree that giving back to their community was an important factor in their decision. As Brian Dworetzky of the Health & Elder Law Clinic simply puts it: "My goals for the summer are to help my clients as best I can and grow as a lawyer and a person through this clinic."
For more information about all of the clinics offered at Miami Law, click here.