By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern
For the first three years of law school, I worked full-time at a software consulting company and went to law school part-time in the evenings. Legal experience therefore, was hard to come by. I was involved in extra-curricular activities that helped give me some academic and practical experience, but I had not worked in the field at all. When I made the switch to full-time student for the last year, I had to strategically choose and schedule my semesters to maximize the quality of my experience. I needed to gain the most value I could, in the shortest possible time.
When I first heard about the clinic, I had sort of dismissed it. Securities arbitration was not something I thought I was interested in, and I didn’t think I would have the time to fit it into my schedule. After talking to a few students who had signed up for the corresponding class, and had actually taken the clinic, I began to change my mind. The experience seemed to revolve not just around securities laws or arbitration, but on developing your lawyering identity as well.
In fact, participating in the clinic ended up being one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had in law school to date. The casework, responsibilities, and exposure to all aspects of client management have prepared me more for being a lawyer than any class has. We wrote pleadings, handled client phone calls, managed our individual caseload, and learned just as much about ourselves as we did about securities arbitration under FINRA. We participated in joint investigations with State agencies, and conceptualized and designed a long-term collaboration with the Georgia Secretary of State dedicated to investor education. As I look back on the semester, I am amazed at how much we accomplished and how much I learned about myself in such a short period of time. Most of all, I am proud of the work of we did and the positive impact it has had on people’s lives.