September 15, 2021
Recent graduate Alma Godinez RLAW '21 is putting her clinic skills to work in the legal world.

Talk about your background
My family and I are Mexican; I have lived in Jersey for 18 years now so I call it home. My mom had me at a very young age so we did not have much when I was growing up. My mother and grandmother made sure I understood the importance of pursuing an education and did all they could to help me live the American Dream. I could not have gotten to where I am in life without their love and support. I have two younger siblings who are the light in my life. I hope to inspire them. I got married to the love of my life during my last semester in law school amid the pandemic. 

What made you want to go to law school?
I worked at an immigration firm during my college years at Dominican College in Orangeburg, NY.  I wanted to be an occupational therapist at the time. During my time at the firm, I fell in love with the profession and with immigration law. My former boss also encouraged and supported my decision to apply for law school. I remember always thinking that a career in the law was unobtainable for someone like me with no resources or connections, I needed someone else to have faith in me for me to believe in myself. I am so grateful for my time at Rutgers. The clinical suite was literally my second home. I am saddened that I was not able to say goodbye to everyone in person due to the pandemic. But I will visit! Most importantly, I will carry with me all the lessons I learned.

What work are you doing now? 
I am clerking at the Superior Court of New Jersey – Passaic Vicinage, with Judge Yolanda Adrianzen in the family division. The judge handles matrimonial matters and custody cases. I am finding the work extremely rewarding and interesting. I had a somewhat limited exposure to family law in law school but the clerkship is teaching me the wonders of family law. 

How did Rutgers Clinics play a part in your law school career? 
Rutgers clinics played a tremendous role in my law school career. I was an evening student all throughout law school. I had the privilege and honor to work in the clinic all four years as program coordinator/paralegal on a special collaborative project between the Rutgers clinical program and the Department of Children and Families to provide legal services to immigrant youth involved with CPS. I worked in the Child Advocacy Clinic with Professor Randi Mandelbaum in the Child Advocacy Clinic and Professor Joanne Gottesman in the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Although I never enrolled in classes with them, they both taught me so much in practice. I also had the pleasure to work with talented, brilliant, and passionate staff attorneys who zealously represented all of our clients. I will always cherish my time working at Rutgers as working in the clinic enriched my life as professional and enriched my educational journey.  

In my last year, I had the pleasure to participate in the Intellectual Property Clinic with Professor John Kettle. As a clinical intern I was able to intake cases on my own, collaborate with students from the Entrepreneurship Clinic, and figure out case strategies to best help our clients. For seven years I had assisted clients in an administrative role and for the first time, I was in the driver's seat with Professor Kettle's guidance. I loved this experience and I enjoyed learning about intellectual property law. 

What is special about Rutgers Law and its clinical program? 
The clinical program at Rutgers is special because it is so robust and offers exposure to many areas of the law. Whether you are looking to be a public interest attorney or corporate clinical experience is an invaluable opportunity. Rutgers students are also fortunate to have experienced and brilliant clinical professors to learn from. 

Was there a professor or mentor who stood out to you or helped you?
Professor Mandelbaum and Interim Co-Dean Rose Cuison-Villazor were incredible mentors during my law school journey. My law school journey would not have been as meaningful and rich without their help and guidance. 
 

Rutgers Law Media Contacts:
Mike Sepanic (Camden); Elizabeth Moore (Newark)

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