I have completed my pro bono requirement through my work with the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic (JIFS). Within the clinic, my work was focused on servicing the needs of my real-life clients in their various stages of litigation. For one of my clients, my time has been working on issues relating to her innocence petition and preparing to file a very large brief with the court hopefully by the end of the semester. For another client, I spent most of the previous semester working to get him resentenced from “life without parole” to a parole-eligible sentence. In January of this year, we were successful at doing just that. With my final client, my work has focused on getting his case re-heard by the California Court of Appeal. Through a brief filed with the California Supreme Court, we were successful at getting his case remanded back to the appellate level for further review. Hopefully we will be in court arguing on his behalf before the end of the summer.
Overall, these experiences have been immensely valuable. Working on cases like these have drastically improved my legal writing skills and have prepared me to litigate on my own and with partners going forward. I learned how important it is to prepare your materials early, to get feedback, and the importance of working on multiple drafts until your work is as perfect as it can be. I also learned the value in collaboration in the legal world. People will always bring different skills and strengths to the table, and knowing how to leverage those strengths is key to personal success. Collaboration has also taught me how to put forward my best work and to be open to constructive feedback. There’s no use in spending your law school years defending your flaws and inexperience. It’s perfectly reasonable that you need these years to hone your craft, and your student partners and professors understand that. It’s good to put yourself out there and do “real work” early on because by the time you’re at a law firm earning a salary, you probably want to have those first few kinks worked out.