There, There, Clinic. It’s Not Really Goodbye, After All

By Ben Dell’Orto, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

That’s a little adjustment to a quote from the story of my generation, Harry Potter. In the scene, Harry is leaving school for the first time, and he comforts one of the friends he’s made, reminding him he’ll be back next year. The end of this semester in clinic feels the same in some ways, since I’ll be coming back for Clinic II in the fall.

The clinic this semester has been a great experience, first and foremost in giving me an opportunity to interact with actual people seeking legal help. We practice interviewing clients in some of our classes, but those don’t really provide the same experiential value as trying to find which follow up questions you should ask in the moment to a real person you’re talking to about their potential legal problems.

In our classes, we receive a lot of problems where we are given a legal scenario, or some pretend client on paper, but it doesn’t really compare to working with a real person. In that in-class problem, you’re given every fact without any hint of ambiguity or vagueness (lest you have a concerned law student freaking out) but when you are working through a real-life problem, the facts aren’t nearly as clear cut.

We get a chance, through clinic, to add to discourse around investor issues through our blog and comment letters. We’ve done a lot of writing this semester, sometimes memos about legal issues for each other and future clinic students. The blog and comment letters are great because we’re writing for different audiences, and that practice really helps us communicate our (sometimes) complicated legal thoughts to different people, whether that be investors or industry regulators at FINRA.

I’ve also had other experiences which will be valuable to me in the future. Leaving voicemails is something I haven’t really had to do since 2008, but lawyers talk to people on their phones in practice, and that will definitely be a part of my future. I learned to interpret monthly and quarterly statements from brokerage firms, and to perform a net-out-of-pockets analysis to assess the damages to a wronged individual (which required some complicated stuff on Microsoft Excel). These little things are often times some of the most helpful experiences.

This semester has been a lot of work, but it has been a great semester of clinic, and I look forward to picking things back up in August.