In this story 2L students Edward Prignano and Victoria Bunch describe why you should do a Civil Clinic: to gain skills, network, learn from a role model, and even to have something to talk about in job interviews! For the spring semester, most placements are open, but they will be filled on a first applied/first filled basis. Apply soon to increase the likelihood that you will be placed in your preferred office. Torie and Eddie completed Civil Clinic internships last summer; continue reading to learn about their work at Utah Legal Services and Legal Aid Society and its impact.
Victoria Bunch: I cannot think of anything else the Legal Aid Society could do to provide a better experience for future students. I received extremely clear and helpful instruction and feedback from my supervisor. He would always clearly tell me what was to be done on a particular case, and then once I had completed the case, I would place it in a stack of my completed work in his office. Then, when he had a free moment, we would go over the cases I had completed together. He would always point out what I could have done better or something I missed in a nice way, and would show me the more preferable way to do things. The criticism was always constructive, and would also point out what I did well.
I could not have gotten a better supervisor when it comes to having a role model. He has a very good reputation with commissioners, justices, bailiffs, mediators, and opposing counsel. With all the many cases he has at Legal Aid, he still is very orderly and on top of his cases. He always behaves in a professional manner, and I hope to convey this type of professionalism in my future practice.
Edward Prignano: My experience at Utah Legal Services was invaluable. My supervising attorney allowed me to work on a wide variety of cases, and he gave me a great deal of latitude in my work. One of my favorite things is that I wasn’t just limited to doing one type of work, I did just about everything. A few of the things included: interviewing clients and witnesses, drafting court documents, participating in discovery including interrogatories, and participating in an administrative hearing. I also received one-on-one guidance by highly capable and well respected attorneys. For example, I was surprised to learn just how many edits many documents go through before an attorney finds them acceptable to submit. My supervising attorney went over a memo I had written probably four times before we submitted it.
I was also able to learn a rather specialized area of law and a particular skill, writing “On the Records” (OTRs) for social security disability law. What’s great about having the chance to learn this really particular skill is that it gave me a practical and marketable skill for a job hunt.
The dedication of attorneys associated with Utah Legal Services is what led me to continue working on a case even after my clinic experience ended. An attorney with a firm in Salt Lake decided to take on a case I had worked on while at ULS, and I volunteered to continue helping. Many of the clients and the cases are particularly sympathetic, but this one even more so. Working on the case introduced me to some well-respected attorneys outside of ULS, but ultimately I was able to see the case resolved in favor of our client which was really rewarding.
My experience at ULS was ultimately responsible for helping me find a part-time law clerk position with a firm. My supervising attorney provided a great reference, and I was able to discuss all the skills I learned while at ULS.