Many students do not seem to realize the value of being a certified legal intern (CLI). Being a CLI means that the Florida Supreme Court allows you to appear in court on behalf of a client under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Only a limited number of positions allow you to become a CLI. For example, if you work for a private law firm, you cannot become a CLI – you have to be in a public interest placement. Most of Coastal’s clinics and externships allow you to become a CLI. Not only does this provide you with an incredibly valuable experience while you are in law school by allowing you to argue motions and trials in court, but you are then eligible for a post graduate CLI. This means that you can continue to practice law under another attorney’s license in an approved program before you receive your own license. Many jobs, such as those with the state attorney’s office or the public defender, will only hire students with a post graduate CLI.
However, the hard part about becoming a CLI is getting your clearance certificate from the Florida Bar. The application for the clearance certificate is not difficult to complete, but it often takes 4-5 months (and can take up to a year) for the Bar to complete the background check and issue the clearance certificate. Everyone should apply for their clearance certificate as early as possible so that you have the certificate in time to apply for a clinic or externship. Even if you do not plan to stay in Florida, the benefits of being a CLI far outweigh the time of completing the clearance certificate application. For more information on the clearance certificate process, please see: http://www.fcsl.edu/clinic/clinical-programs and http://www.floridabarexam.org/.