By Megan Makuck, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern
There is an old saying that goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I think the same can be said for experience compared to a textbook, and my time in the Investor Advocacy Clinic this semester is no exception. Starting at orientation in August, everything was overwhelming. The learning curve was steep and there were countless times I did not even know what to ask about what I did not understand. But jumping into it with an open mind a strong team of students by my side, I quickly learned the ropes of the day to day in the clinic. I learned lawyerly skills that are not in a textbook. I learned how to work in a law firm setting; I learned how to speak to clients; and I learned the importance of working with a team for tedious and large cases.
Most importantly, I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We will not always know the answer to a problem. This goes beyond the legal field and can be applied to any aspect of life, and I learned that that is okay. It is okay to not always know the answer. That is why we work in groups and closely with our supervising attorney. Sometimes a client will ask a question, and we will not know the answer. That is also okay. Transparency is key. Asking questions is key. And having an open mind to learn and experience lessons is of the utmost importance.
I cannot believe that my semester in the clinic is coming to an end. I look back, and my favorite part of my time in the clinic is the people that I worked most closely with. Sharing experiences of drafting arbitration documents, internal memos, calculating damages, will be the first thing I remember when I reflect on my semester with the clinic. I have learned that in developing our careers, while it is important to like the job you do, it is equally important to like the people you work with. We spent countless hours working on one draft of one letter or one draft of one statement of claim, and at times it is exhausting and overwhelming. But having a team of great people who all bring different attributes to the table and all support one another through long tasks makes it that much easier to put in the extra mile.
The clinic has given me many lessons that I can take with me in my legal career. I now understand the attention to detail that is required for billing my time. Six minute increments is no joke. I have also learned about the type of work environment I would be best suited in. But most importantly, I have learned about the type of attorney I aspire to be – when interacting with clients, colleagues, and third parties to the case. I aspire to be professional, but also direct. The clinic has helped me find my voice, and I like the way it is beginning to sound.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I have enjoyed my time in the clinic and with my team. It is an irreplaceable experience, and I hope that others who go through the clinic have similar experiences. It is something a textbook will not teach you.