Amid COVID-19, Tenants’ Rights Clinic Student Flexes Creative Thinking to Find Solutions for Clients

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Kimi RobertsonKimi Robertson, 2L

Rising third-year law student Kimi Robertson works in the Tenants’ Rights Clinic, serves as President of the Black Law Students Association, and is a member of both the Honor Council and the Society of Bar and Gavel. The Dean’s Merit Scholarship recipient also clerks for Alan Soven and interned for Judge Adalberto Jordan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Before law school, the Nashville native worked at Sony/ATV Music and MTV Networks.

Robertson is one of the dozens of Miami Law clinic volunteers who are continuing to represent clients during the pandemic. We spoke with her about the work she’s been doing on her cases, and where and how she’s representing clients and defending against evictions.

Q: What do you usually do as a clerk in the Tenants’ Rights Clinic?

A: As a clerk in the Tenants’ Rights Clinic, I work with low-income tenants to address issues they are having, including evictions or other issues with their landlords or the public housing administration. My role involves a lot of statutory and legal research and a lot of communication with the clients. I’ve also had to prepare for and participate in an administrative hearing.

Q: Jeffrey Hearne, Director of the Tenants’ Rights Clinic, said you are continuing to represent clients during the pandemic. Could you share the work you have been doing on your cases where you are continuing to represent clients and defending against evictions over the past several weeks?

I am currently working to negotiate a move-out date for one of my clients in an eviction case, so I have mainly been working on that and trying to maneuver around everything going on with COVID-19. I also have a few other cases, but those have kind of slowed down due to COVID-19.

Q: What changes are you seeing with your cases or clients? What are the hardships of working during the shutdown as a law student, intern, and in your personal life?

COVID-19 has definitely had an impact. The shutdown has made it difficult in terms of figuring out timelines for certain cases since things are changing on a daily basis. Also, the sense of not knowing what may happen next can be stressful for both the clients and the workers. A positive note is that we are being challenged to be flexible and creative in finding solutions to problems.

It has been an adjustment working from home because I am so used to such a different routine of constantly being on the go and working in different settings. I usually go to other places (e.g., school, library, coffee shop, etc.) when I need to do work. I also miss my friends because my law school friends are my Miami family, so not seeing them regularly is weird.

Since the shutdown, I’ve kind of rearranged my apartment. I’ve set up a table to work at, but I usually end up outside on my balcony. I do miss being around people in the same room because there is a different kind of energy actually being in person, and I think we take for granted being able to get up and just ask a quick question. The workload fortunately has not changed but switching to an online platform for most of my interactions has been interesting.

 

Q: Why did you go to law school and have the past two weeks changed any of your thinking about law or your future plans?

I came to law school because I wanted to pursue something more challenging and meaningful in my career. I don’t think the last two weeks have changed that, but I’m definitely more aware of the flexibility that is needed for this job. If you can’t go with the flow, then it’s going to be more difficult to get things done.

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