2L Jaron Janson is currently participating in the College of Law’s Civil Clinic at the Utah Guardian ad Litem’s office, dividing his time between the Ogden and Farmington Juvenile Courts. In the interview below, he describes his myriad responsibilities, notes that lawyers can be fun to work with, and explains how the clinical experience has helped him to practice and apply the principles he is learning in the classroom.
Congratulations on your Civil Clinic at the Guardian ad Litem’s office. Can we start by generally describing some of your experiences in the clinic to date?
The office that I work in is split between Ogden Juvenile Court and Farmington Juvenile Court, so I have over a dozen attorneys I get the opportunity to working with. I always have plenty of work to do this way, and many different Judges observe. I also work very often with the Investigator we have in our office who does all the Protective Orders that our office gets assigned. I have been able to interview many children and parents regarding the cases surrounding the protective orders, often times by myself. I then write up the notes, and prepare the files for the attorneys so that they are ready to give recommendations (based on my findings) in the courtroom regarding the protective orders. I have also been able to prepare for trials from the beginning to the end, which includes drafting petitions for exhibit lists, drafting petitions for witness lists, Drafting the witness questions for direct examination, creating a trial binder for my supervising attorney, interviewing witnesses prior to trial, attending depositions prior to trial and assisting the supervising attorney with ideas during the trial.
I have also been able to attend court with the guardians and interact with the children and other parties at hearings and trials. I have been able to interact and develop and relationship with caseworkers for DCFS as well as the assistant Attorney General. The guardians allow me to interact with our client a lot and ask questions and give feedback clients under their direction. I have also been able to participate in research for hearings and trials, and then been able to see that research in action during hearings, while being a resource to the attorneys while they present that research to the judge.
If you were to isolate one experience so far that stands out as being particularly useful or memorable, what would it be?
Maybe not just one experience, but the times that I have been able to interview clients on my own or even with my supervisor present, has been very useful to me. I receive feedback on my techniques and interviewing skills, and it helps me develop and improve for the next time I do an interview. I have been able to really develop and improve my interviewing skill this way.
Has your experience so far in the clinic changed how you view your classes at the College of Law, or the practice of law? If so, how?
I would say that my experiences so far in this clinic have changed how I view some of my classes a little bit. Mostly, it has made my classes seem much more applicable. I have seen the rules of evidence in practice many times in our hearings and trials in court, and it has made them more real to me. Also, It has helped me realize that litigating does not have to be as cutthroat as I imagined. Working with defense attorneys and the AG’s office has helped me realize that there is a lot of mutual respect among attorneys, and many attorneys are very fun to work with.
In your Civil Clinic: Reflection report, you mention how the Lawyering Skills class has been applicable to your clinic. Have any of your other classes been particularly relevant? If so, which ones and why?
In Lawyering Skills we have focused a majority of the class on interviewing skills. This has been especially helpful to me because a large portion of my clinic has been interviewing clients and interacting with them. The class has given me the foundation of how to interview, and I have been able to take the lessons learned in class and go practice them in real life in my clinic. Evidence has also been very applicable, as I have been able to see many objections in the courtroom relating to the rules of evidence.
Would you recommend the Civil Clinic to your fellow students at the College of Law? If so, why?
I would recommend the Civil Clinic to any law student who is interested in litigation. I would especially recommend the Guardian ad Litem’s office. There are so many different opportunities available within this assignment to practice and apply the principles that I am learning in the classroom. To me, this seems like the best way to really understand the principles, and internalize them. I feel much more confident in my future as a lawyer and my current skills, because of the clinic this semester.