The first full week of Spring 2012 DPBC was unbelievably busy. However, this week underscored the reason why clinic education is the best you can get while in law school. Students travelled to Tallahassee on Tuesday to observe an administrative rule challenge against the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in front of the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). They observed other students making opening statements, arguing motions, voir diring the expert witness, and direct/cross-examining expert witnesses.
They also were able to see examples of how the opposing counsel’s negative attitude in the courtroom affected the case. It was a crash course on professionalism, evidence, legal research, oral advocacy and administrative law. The next day, another student was allowed to prepare a client for a telephonic hearing, and then participate in the hearing. On Thursday, students attended classes and then I attended a contested guardianship for which a Senior Clinician had prepared several weeks.
A trial notebook was prepared, pleadings were organized, criminal backgrounds were placed in chronological order and a timeline was created. Friday turned back to “normal” with conference calls, client interviews and student meetings. New students contacted their clients by telephone, letter and in-person meetings. Although overwhelmed, it can’t be said that new students didn’t learn a lot this week and will continue to cultivate their skills. The busy week was indicative of why the clinic is the best way to learn how to be a good lawyer.