Published May 8, 2017
The Community Justice Clinic represents low-income residents of Buffalo on issues relating to workers’ rights, consumer justice, immigration, civil rights and government benefits. It is primarily a litigation clinic, although students will also have the opportunity to engage in community education and policy work as well.
I participated in the Community Justice Clinic during my second year at UB School of Law. I applied for the clinic towards the end of my first year and the application process was relatively straightforward. I filled out the clinic application, submited my resume, and a short personal statement as to why I wanted to participate in this clinic.
During my time in the clinic, I worked mostly on immigration cases. One case involved an undocumented minor from Guatemala, where I had the opportunity to appear in family court, as well as the Executive Office of Immigration Review, in order to help our client obtain permanent status in the U.S. The other case involved 4 undocumented immigrants from Mexico who were victims of human trafficking and wage theft. For these cases, we filed U and T visa applications with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) so they could also obtain permanent status in the U.S.
Participating in this clinic has by far been the most valuable experience I have had in law school. I got hands on experience and got to work on cases, meet with clients, appear in court, draft motions and briefs, and communicate with other attorneys and government agencies in our community. Although the clinic is demanding and the expectations are high, it is an extremely rewarding experience to have the opportunity to advocate for those who would not have access to legal representation without our assistance. This experience will definitely stay with me when I move on to my future career. I have developed better writing, communication, and advocacy skills because of the clinic and I do not think I would be able to strengthen these skills in any typical law school class. I would recommend the clinical program to all law students because it is the best real-life experience you can get as a practicing attorney while still a student.