As a 3L with 8 months of law school left, I am faced with the daunting reality that my 7
years of post-high school education is coming to an end and the real world is getting closer and closer. After graduating with a J.D., the real world means real clients, real problems and real peoples’ lives that we can change for the better or worse (hopefully, the better). To me, this thought seemed terrifying- was I ready? Had I had enough literal, physical learning as opposed to theoretical?
Coming to Rutgers Law, I had no experience with the legal world and profession. I was the first person in my family to go to law school. It wasn’t the task of getting through classes and exams that seemed daunting to me, it was the prospect of finally having to apply what I learned in books and on paper to the real world. It was with this fear that I signed up for my first pro bono event, the Planning Estates Project (PEP). Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I, a 1L student, would have the opportunity to have my “first client” as Professor Herb Hinkle, the supervising attorney, put it. I was shocked that I was being given the opportunity to interact with and serve a real client with real needs so early on in my legal career. Looking back, I could not be more grateful for it.
Rutgers Law gave me unique opportunities for real world experience that I did not expect to gain. As a 1L, I was able to participate in PEP making estate planning documents for low
income seniors. I have now gone on to be the student leader for the program that allows for other students to gain their “first client” experience as well. As a 1L and a 2L, I was also able to participate in the Domestic Violence Project where I was able to go to the court and help victims of abuse obtain final restraining orders. We were able to meet with the victims and help them through the process in real time- an experience that has stuck with me. As a 3L, I had the opportunity to enroll in the Entrepreneurship Clinic where students are able to work with clients who are attempting to start their own businesses and nonprofits in the Camden/Philadelphia area.
Talking to my peers at other law schools, they have not had similar experiences in regards to gaining so much real world experience as early as their 1L year at their respective schools. This experience has quieted the fear I had as a 1L regarding the daunting entrance I will soon have into the real, legal world. I mean, thanks to Rutgers, I already have real world experience under my belt. Rutgers was able to couple the theoretical learning with the physical hands-on learning and I couldn’t be more grateful that I can carry this experience with me into the world beyond schooling.