Beyond the textbook

Stephanie Rivas ’16

Stephanie Rivas ’16 knew she had some serious skills. It was time to put them into action.

“I truly enjoyed interacting and meeting with our clients in the clinic. I learned so much from them, things that you can’t find in a textbook.”

After two years at the University at Buffalo School of Law, including an intense and rewarding semester in the New York City Program on Finance and Law, Stephanie Rivas ’16 knew she had some serious skills.

It was time to put them into action.

That’s what she did when she landed a summer clinical internship at Yale Law School’s Jerome Frank Legal Services Organization. She was one of only about 20 law students nationwide selected for the prestigious program.

In the organization’s Criminal Justice Clinic, Rivas helped represent people who can’t afford private attorneys, doing everything from client interviews to research to writing legal memoranda, motions and internal memos. Not to mention working on clemency petitions from inmates in the federal prison system, and serving as a translator for Yale’s Immigration Clinic.

“We cleared a lot of files,” says the New York City native. “And in your career you’re going to need those practical skills. So I strongly advise getting involved in clinical work.”

That includes the extensive clinical education offerings at Buffalo Law, where she was a member of the Domestic Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic.

“I truly enjoyed interacting and meeting with our clients in the clinic,” she says. “I learned so much from them, things that you can’t find in a textbook. It’s a skill to get the right information from your client while also catering to their needs, and I plan on continuing to perfect this skill. The clinic was one of my most rewarding experiences during law school.”