Students Say | Alumni Say | Clients Say
The CARES Clinic is both the most important and the most difficult challenge that I undertook in law school. I learned more about the law, lawyering and myself in two semesters with the CARES Clinic than in all three years at Villanova. As a clinic student you are expected to solve real problems independently, which is a skill that is not taught in traditional law school courses, yet is a requisite for a successful attorney. Furthermore, through both the CARES Clinic and Advanced CARES Clinic I was able to do extremely meaningful legal work on a variety of complex and challenging cases. In the CARES Clinic I planned case strategy, formulated legal arguments, gathered and investigated evidence, and represented my client before an administrative judge in an adversarial proceeding. Then, in the Advanced CARES Clinic I drafted appellate briefs, submitted motions to administrative appellate bodies, counseled clients, and learned what it means to work in a functional legal team.
CARES & Advanced Advocacy Clinics
The clinics are real. That seems obvious but the first time a client doesn't show up to a meeting, or changes their story, or a deadline changes you realize just how real it is. But being real isn't always bad, when your client wins and it is because of your work, that amazing feeling is real too. You know you've made a difference in someone's life.
Appellate cases that we examine in law school and fact patterns on which we are tested consist of nice, neat packages of facts. You learn in a clinical experience that there is no such thing. Interviewing clients (repeatedly), handling conflicts with clients (like when they don't show up for meetings), and tracking down other witnesses are all the difficult parts of fact-gathering for which a regular law school course cannot prepare you. The clinical experience is not easy and it is sometimes completely frustrating, but it is the best preparation for real lawyering. These real experiences, furthermore, provide more of a sense of pride and ownership than any exam grade could.
Clinic is the perfect break from typical law school existence. You learn to advocate on behalf of people who otherwise would not have a voice in the legal system. Clinic allows students to really put their legal knowledge to practice and simultaneously help individuals with complicated, real-life problems.
Civil Justice & Advanced Advocacy Clinics
The clinics are the best real world experience you can hope to achieve in law school. Everything from client interaction to drafting your pleadings, to arguing in court, the clinics really put things in perspective and give students a true insight into the real legal system.
Civil Justice Clinic
Participating in the Civil Justice Clinic has been a learning experience far beyond anything I could have taken from a classroom experience. Clinic students learn to apply their legal skills to real, live cases. By strategizing about your cases, interacting with your clients and understanding the ways in which the legal services you provide affect your clients' lives, you begin to see the big picture; specifically, you learn how to effectively manage a case. Throughout the process, you grow as a student and even as a person; few things in law school offer this type of unique experience. I highly recommend the Civil Justice Clinic for students seeking a hands-on approach to their legal studies.
Civil Justice & Advanced Advocacy Clinics
The Villanova Farmworkers Legal Aid clinic provides a hands-on, minds-on learning experience. The clinical approach to teaching and learning enables students to participate fully in a learning community where a supervisor is one of many sources of knowledge and instruction. Students examine and apply legal theory while serving as advocates for those typically denied access to justice. Working with my piers to further this noble cause has been an invaluable aspect of my legal education.
Sean C. Sansiveri
Farmworker & Advanced Advocacy Clinics
It was a very enjoyable experience. I represented real clients with real problems, and in doing so, I gained valuable hands-on litigation experience that I will take with me into my post-law school career.
The Tax Clinic is, without a doubt, the best experience of my law school career. It has given me a chance to not only utilize the law I learned in classes, but also to interact with clients as a representative and other lawyers as an advocate. The Clinic has allowed me to see that the skills and knowledge we obtain in school has real-world effects on clients.
Federal Tax & Advanced Advocacy Clinics
Working in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic was a unique experience which helped me become a better law student and a better lawyer. I was able to put what I had learned so far in my law school classes to practical use in counseling clients, working with opposing counsel and preparing cases and pleadings. As a student I was even certified by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to appear in court! Most importantly, by working closely with agricultural workers on their labor and immigration related cases, I felt like I was able to make a difference in people's lives.
Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic & Advanced Advocacy Clinic
I feel the tax clinic has been an invaluable experience to my development as a future lawyer. The clinic provides a supportive environment to develop the skills needed to properly represent a client. In addition to the skills you gain, the greatest reward is helping those who could not help themselves or who would have gotten lost in the system without your assistance.
Federal Tax & Advanced Advocacy
The clinical program was one of the most beneficial offerings I experienced as a student at Villanova Law School. As a practicing attorney, I often reflect back on my time spent in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic and am extremely grateful for the opportunity it gave me to develop many of the fundamental skills that I utilize in my practice today. Clinical students leave this program with important knowledge and a thorough understanding of how to prepare a case. My advice for current VLS students is to begin sharpening your skills now by involving yourself in such a clinic so that you will be better prepared for your career as an attorney.
Client counseling, researching and writing, problem solving, critical decision making, and practical trial experience are just a few of the learning opportunities that this program offers to its students. The clients that clinical students represent are in desperate need of legal representation, and many students leave the clinic with the feeling that they have changed, or even saved a life. The privilege of participating in this clinic was truly one of the most valuable experiences that was afforded to me throughout my years at VLS.
Craig Robinson (’08)
Working as a student representative in the CARES clinic is the best way to get practical legal experience in law school. I was assigned an interesting and challenging asylum case on the first day of class. I worked closely with my professors and client to develop the case, write a legal brief, and prepare for trial in Philadelphia's Immigration Court. At the end of the semester, I represented my client at a merits hearing where I had the opportunity to square off against a prosecutor from the Department of Homeland Security before an Immigration Judge.
Kyle C. Allen (’09)
For me, the Immigration Clinic provided an invaluable opportunity to put my then academic understanding of procedure to work. Everyone coming out of law school knows how to analyze a court opinion, but not everyone has had the experience of taking a case through the courts -- from filing an entry of appearance, to submitting an anticipated witness list, to filing post-decision papers. The Clinic gave me a great foundation for working in litigation.
Leigh Woodruff Marquardt ('00)
Associate, Conrad O'Brien Gellman & Rohn, PC
Truly meaningful work and great "on your feet" experience are the best two phrases that describe my experience in VLS's clinical program. My clients had serious problems that affected their lives at basic human levels. All of my clients were poor, and most were proud and hard-working people trying to save their homes, their families and themselves. I got to know my clients on a personal level and understood the significant impact my work could have on their lives. Knowing about my clients' lives and understanding my role translated into caring for them personally and feeling a burden to do my best on their behalf. Thus, when standing before a judge or special master, I not only concerned myself with my performance, as students do in classes and staged moot court settings, but also with my clients' real needs and desires. Experiencing that dual pressure is undoubtedly the best preparation law school has to offer for actual practice, where lawyers must always strive to be professional as well as effective advocates.
Michael Gerber ('00)
Associate, Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, LLP
I will never forget my first client at VCLS. She helped me as much as I helped her, by providing me with confidence in my ability that I didn't know I had.
Sara Woods ('00)
Associate, Women Against Abuse
My experience with the CARES Clinic was invaluable in many ways. My experience interacting and dealing with clients has aided me in dealing with all kinds of clients, from individuals to fortune 500 companies. I also have been aided by the fact-finding skills I acquired as a CARES intern. As a litigator it is essential to develop skills for formulating the right questions to get the most important information. I would not have been as prepared for dealing with the discovery and depositions that are the hallmark of a junior litigator's career without my clinical experience. Finally, participating in a clinic is a wonderful way to get over the "fear factor." After preparing and trying an asylum case in front of an immigration judge, I graduated from law school confident about my ability to be an effective and competent attorney.
Elissa J. Taub ('00)
"Thank you for your help and advice pertaining to my tax situation. Your efforts have opened the door with the Internal Revenue Service to review and negotiate my problem."
"The services I received from Villanova clinical program were excellent. Everybody in prison used to ask me how I got the caring lawyers."
"No one would have done that for me. I didn't have money - no nothing with me, but the way you took my case was like I paid or like I have known you for a year. You were so friendly and treated me like a real person and to understand that I am something. Long time ago I had lost interest in my self because of the way I was treated but now I'm okay and happy. I know it is you who gave me back my happiness."
"I don't know how I'll ever pay you guys back. Thank you very, very, very much."
"I was very satisfied. The students helped me out a great deal. They pretty much saved my life and my children's lives."
"The personnel treated me with a high degree of courteousness which made me feel that I was with family members."
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