2L Margo Shipley shares her experience as a student clinic intern in the Immigrants’ Rights Project at The University of Tulsa College of Law’s Boesche Legal Clinic.
Working at the Boesche Legal Clinic has helped me to gain both substantive knowledge of immigration law as well as practical experience interviewing clients and putting together immigration petitions. One unique aspect of the Clinic is that students are actually allowed to practice law, under the direction of Professor Elizabeth McCormick, which enables us to apply the knowledge that we have gained about immigration law in the lecture aspect of the course. Working directly with clients and doing much of their legal work, in collaboration with other students, has allowed me to learn things that I never would have learned in the classroom, including everything from client interviewing procedures to corresponding with federal immigration agencies. Additionally, Professor McCormick reviews every document and piece of legal writing that each of us produces, which helps students to gain further knowledge about procedures and to create more polished work.
This experience prepared me for the professional world by providing me with client interviewing experience and allowing me to practice law as a student. Initially, I was nervous that I–rather than a professor or supervising attorney–would be the one interacting with clients, preparing immigration petitions, and contacting law enforcement and other personnel on the clients’ behalf. Working at the Clinic all semester has made me more comfortable with these aspects of practicing law and advocating for clients.
I would tell a student who is considering an externship that if you are not sure of the direction your career will take after you graduate, or which type of law you want to practice, doing an externship is the perfect way to not only gain some practical experience but also possibly to find out what you do (or do not) want to do when you graduate. An externship is a great way to build connections in the legal community, learn about the law, and learn how to advocate for your future clients.
I would highly recommend working at the Boesche Legal Clinic to any law student. Even if your primary interest is not immigration law, the Clinic provides invaluable experience working firsthand with clients and practicing law.