By Jason Robinson, Spring 2015 Student Intern
I can remember the Corporate Finance class where we discussed the structure of annuities. I learned how to discount future payments to get the present value of the annuity. After working in the Clinic and encountering real annuities, I now realize that they are a lot more complicated than I had imagined from my finance course. In the classroom we sometimes get a simplified version of what happens in the real world. The Clinic has allowed me to work with real clients and see how some of the financial products that I had learned about are actually put together.
One part of the Clinic that I have really enjoyed is the chance it gave me to interact with clients and practice being a professional. Although we work under the supervision of attorneys, the attorneys make every effort to allow the student-interns to make the tough decisions. When I first started in the Clinic this was not easy. My instinct would be to turn to the attorneys for advice. After being asked, “What do you think?” enough times, I realized that this was a chance for me to make some of the hard choices about the direction of a potential claim.
Overall, I have reached the conclusion that what you get out of the Clinic has everything to do with what you put into it. The more that I challenged myself and took on new, difficult tasks, the more I ended up being rewarded by the experience. The Investor Advocacy Clinic in particular deals with complex financial products. There is a high learning curve to understanding something like a variable annuity. The more effort that you put into learning how these products function leads to a greater ability to speak the language of business and pick up on the subtle ways that investors are defrauded or put into unsuitable investments.