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Chris Heaney
Chris Heaney '13

Chris Heaney '13

Carolina Law Student

Clinic has been one of the most valuable parts of my legal education, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to other students. As part of the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic, I represented clients and counseled potential clients who had questions about housing, education, and employment. Most notably, I represented one employee with claims for unpaid wages and helped win a substantial settlement. Because of the clinic, I have deposed witnesses, conducted discovery, and negotiated a settlement. These are the kinds of experiences that you cannot have in a regular classroom but need to have to practice the law.

Nik Patel '13
Nik Patel '13

Nik Patel '13

Carolina Law Student

Participating in the Community Development Law Clinic was one of my best decisions in law school. I loved getting to interact with real clients who had real world issues. Importantly, I could see my critical lawyering skills develop throughout the year. Professor Tom Kelley was amazing at guiding us through challenging legal issues and gave us control over our cases. At the end of the year, I knew that my work throughout the year helped all my clients come closer to their dream of becoming a non-profit organization. Undoubtedly, I feel more confident in my legal skills and I feel more prepared to represent clients in post law school.

Christina Cress '13
Christina Cress '13

Christina Cress '13

Carolina Law Student

Because I will be practicing civil litigation, I cannot emphasize enough how much the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic helped me grow professionally. There is something very different about learning legal theory in the abstract as opposed to actually practicing law. Having the opportunity to learn "by doing" made things I learned in law school concrete. Through that process, I realized my strengths and areas for improvement. Having the opportunity to interact with supervising attorneys, opposing counsel, and clinical partners allowed me to improve my interpersonal communication skills and receive continuous feedback on my work. My communication skills, both oral and written, improved throughout my clinic experience. Additionally, I learned so much substantive and procedural law, and had the opportunity to analyze and apply this knowledge in a real world context.

Gina Reyman
Gina Reyman

Gina Reyman

Senior Managing Attorney
Legal Aid of North Carolina-Pittsboro

For almost twenty years, the Legal Aid office in Durham has referred many of its clients to the UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic for representation. As manager of this office, I am always confident that our clients will receive the highest quality legal services when they are accepted by the Civil Clinic. The students have more time to spend individually with each client so the clients feel like their cases are getting the attention that they deserve. The supervising attorneys always have the students well prepared for court appearances. The Certified Law Students are often the most professionally dressed and prepared advocates in the courtroom. We thank the Civil Clinic for their consistent work on behalf of low income persons in Durham County.

George Hausen

Executive Director
Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina depends upon law students from the UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic to help fill the gap in providing high-quality legal services to North Carolina residents who cannot afford legal services. There are over 2.9 million people in our state who meet the federal poverty guidelines and are eligible for legal services but there are only 130 legal services lawyers in the state. The Civil Legal Assistance clinic is a critical component of our service delivery and our efforts to expand services. The Clinic provides its students with the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills training they need to function as certified law students who can effectively serve clients during their third year of law school. Clinic students who move into attorney positions in our offices after graduation arrive with a demonstrated commitment to serving and an understanding of our most vulnerable populations. They meet our high standards that we require of new attorneys and can step in to a highly demanding legal services office, competently accept challenging assignments on cases and deliver life-altering solutions to critical legal needs. UNC Clinic students and graduates come to us not only as smart and creative law students and lawyers, but as prepared and empathetic poverty law advocates as well, and that is a distinction without equal in our experience.

Judge Marcia Morey
Judge Marcia Morey

Judge Marcia Morey

Durham District Court

For several years the UNC Criminal Clinic has provided exceptional representation to juveniles charged with criminal offenses. Third year law students have demonstrated remarkable trial skills and advocacy for Durham's at-risk youth. Cases assigned to students range anywhere from truancy to armed robbery. The Clinic offers law students a tremendous, unique experience to learn hands on about the juvenile and criminal justice system. As one of the presiding judges in Durham County, I am deeply grateful for the strong, effective child advocacy offered by the Clinic.

Michael Bertics
Michael Bertics

Michael Bertics

Carolina Law Student

Working in the UNC Civil Legal Clinic was one of the best experiences that I had in law school. Law students don't usually get the chance to get hands on legal experience representing actual clients while in law school. Clinic gave me the opportunity to help real clients with a wide variety of legal problems with me acting as their actual lawyer. This was great for a couple of reasons. First, now that I am leaving law school to go practice law, I actually know how to do all of the different legal things that we have all heard about, but rarely had a chance to actually do. Because of my experience in clinic, I know how to conduct a deposition, set a dispute for hearing, file a summary judgment motion, draft a complaint, etc. Second, clinic gave me an opportunity to practice many skills that I will need as a lawyer that they really do not teach in any other class. Clinic gave me substantial client counseling experience working with indigent clients from really different backgrounds from my own. Clinic gave me the opportunity to negotiate cases with real lawyers who represented the other side in the cases that I worked on. These skills are very important for any lawyer involved in litigation, and my opportunity to develop these skills in clinic was invaluable.

I think for many people, law school teaches you the law rather than how to be a lawyer. A lot of my friends that didn't have clinical experience are now feeling very intimidated by the prospect of having to go out into the real world and practice law, since law school has taught them the theoretical side of being a lawyer but not the practical side. With my clinical experience under my belt, I can honestly say that now I can set foot in the real world, knowing not only the law, but also where the courthouse is.

Paul LaChance
Paul LaChance

Paul LaChance

Carolina Law Student

Without a doubt, being a part of the Criminal Clinic rates among the best experiences of my three years at Carolina Law. The opportunity to represent young men and women in Juvenile Court gave me the chance to apply and to broaden my newfound legal knowledge, all the while aided by the valuable support and tutelage of clinical staff and instructors. Each time I walked into court I felt assured that, no matter the outcome, my client would have an advocate who was prepared and able to speak up forcefully in his or her defense. I was fortunate enough to see some very positive resolutions in court, one culminating in a judge-initiated ovation in recognition of my client's efforts. For another client's case, success came in the form of preventing removal to a group home, a minor victory to some, but ever so important to my client. When things did not resolve so tidily I was still there by my client's side, explaining the impact of the judge's ruling and processing the ramifications with him or her. In the clinic, the client's case does not end with pronouncement of the judicial decree: there are always post-hearing conferences, all of value, whether convened formally by an interdisciplinary team or informally by a client's grandmother. Being a party to these (and other) meetings gave me much perspective on the whole constellation of systems and personalities coming together when a juvenile's autonomy and well-being are at stake. Outside and inside of court, I always felt supported in my learning and in my advocacy - I highly recommend the Criminal Clinic to those looking to transition from the classroom into the profession, from individualized learning to community-directed service.

Jacqlene Nance
Jacqlene Nance

Jacqlene Nance

Carolina Law Student

The Policy Clinic was an amazing experience that I would recommend to any student interested in international policy reform. The clinic provided a wonderful opportunity for me to participate in an international arena about a topic that I am very passionate about - domestic violence. As a student, I was working in international domestic violence policy reform, had the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) as a client, expanded my knowledge of domestic violence practices in the U.S., traveled to Washington, D.C. to witness a hearing in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States, and had the opportunity to work closely with Professor Deborah Weissman and Cassie Gavin.

These experiences were integral to my law school career. Law school education should not be limited to classroom time; the policy clinic allowed me to further delve into a topic I am passionate about while bringing about change. Without the clinic experience of having a client, participating in an international forum and working closely with a partner and advisor, my law school career would not have been fully developed.

Hannah Little
Hannah Little

Hannah Little

Carolina Law Student

As a student in the UNC Human Rights and Policy Clinic, I participated in a project to assist victims of human trafficking in North Carolina . While there are federal statutes already in place to prosecute traffickers and to help victims, there are additional steps that a state must take to ensure that victims receive the benefits of these laws. The purpose of our Policy Clinic project was to create a protocol to aid in the identification of trafficked persons, coordinate available resources within the state and deliver these resources to victims. In other words, we strove to make a real-life connection between the intention behind the existing federal law and ground level implementation.

The Policy Clinic is a unique clinical experience; there are no direct clients or courtroom experience. Instead, I interviewed attorneys locally and nationally, researched protocols of other states, attended state task force meetings, and met with a state legislator while working on this project. It was an invaluable experience to learn what other states are doing and it was an exhilarating feeling to meet other people passionate about the same issues. The experience trained me to think in innovative and creative ways, as well as providing me with an expanded base of contacts in this community and sharpening my research skills. Most importantly, I gained an essential skill as attorney - I helped to transform the law from mere words into a living, breathing tool for positive societal change.

Lisa Weissman-Ward
Lisa Weissman-Ward

Lisa Weissman-Ward

Carolina Law Student

My year-long work as a clinic student was by far the most important, substantive and procedural learning experience of my law school career. As a student in the Criminal Clinic I had the opportunity to engage in real lawyering work -- research, client interviews, witness interviews, court/hearing preparations and court appearances. I can't imagine going into the real world without having had such an experience. Not only was I able to gain valuable and tangible skill sets that have prepared me to enter the legal profession, but I was able to provide much needed legal services to indigent juveniles.

Working with the faculty who teach in the clinic was an excellent way to begin to explore the complexities of handling cases from their inception to their end. It also provided a means by which I could work through legal theories, statutory interpretations, and basic client interactions. While I had autonomy and the ability to learn and prepare for the cases on my own, I knew that my work would be supervised and that I would receive invaluable feedback from the clinic professors. My professors served as mentors, teachers, and models of the high standards to which attorneys should hold themselves.

I am very much looking forward to entering the legal profession and I am grateful for the opportunities that the Criminal Clinic has provided to me.

Katy Lewis
Katy Lewis

Katherine M. Lewis

Carolina Law Student

I cannot imagine practicing law without having participated in the UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic. The civil clinic gave me an opportunity to work on a case from beginning to end, from interviewing the client to developing a theory of the case to strategizing to drafting a complaint to representing a client before a judge in district court. Not only did I learn more about substantive immigration law, family law, and landlord-tenant law, but I also learned countless practical tips about lawyering that traditional law school classes do not address. Most important, the clinic was an empowering experience, as I was able to help real people with real legal needs.

James Williams
James Williams

James E. Williams Jr.

Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties

I have always been impressed by the dedication the UNC Criminal Law Clinic students show toward their juvenile clients and cases. I know that when the Criminal Clinic is assigned to represent a juvenile in a delinquency matter in Orange County, his or her legal interests will be thoroughly analyzed, researched and investigated. The students are very well-prepared in court and have been zealous and compassionate advocates for their clients. As Public Defender for Orange and Chatham counties, I am responsible for assigning counsel to represent indigent clients. I feel confident that when a case is assigned to the UNC Criminal Law Clinic, the client will receive the attention and consideration they deserve, and the case will be handled very professionally.

Eric Zogry
Eric Zogry

Eric J. Zogry

Juvenile Defender of North Carolina

As Juvenile Defender, one of my tasks is to evaluate the quality of representation in juvenile delinquency court. Upon visiting delinquency court in Durham County, I was immediately struck by two characteristics particular to the students in the Criminal Law Clinic. First, the students clearly took the procedures very seriously as evidenced by their dress, speech, and manner towards the court as well as towards their clients and court personnel. Second, they were always extremely well-prepared for their cases, both at the adjudication and disposition stage. UNC Criminal Law Clinic students serve a vital role in the system: they provide their clients with a vigorous defense and ensure fair and individualized dispositions from the court.

Judge Joseph Moody Buckner
Judge Joseph Moody Buckner

Judge Joseph Moody Buckner

Chief District Judge
Chatham and Orange Counties

We hope that our clinic students gain practical litigation and negotiation skills and a hands-on opportunity to help people. Helping people through legal and life challenges is an attorney's greatest calling. It is a precious skill which is difficult to teach outside a real life setting.

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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