Law Students Reflect on Spring Semester at the Justice Center
by Ariana Javidi May 2, 2019
Columbia Law School Pro Bono Scholar Angel Nwachukwu and Vermont Law Student Extern Bomy Hwang spent the semester with us, working on the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project and Immigrant Justice Project. In this article, they share some of their key insights and takeaways from their time at CBJC.
I was interested in working at the City Bar Justice Center during my last semester of law school to gain hands-on experience working with clients. Learning about legal theories in the classroom does not compare to picking up a phone and calling a client, or meeting with one face to face. My favorite part about working with the CBJC is that the project teams are small so I get real responsibility and real work. In just a short amount of time, I have gained the confidence necessary to effectively engage with clients directly.
Working with the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project has been particularly rewarding. I came to law school because I was interested in the intersection between business strategy and the law, which is exactly the work I am doing now. The clients have amazing business ideas and just need the legal tools to guide them forward. For the first time, I am able to use some of my economics background and legal education in one setting. I review business plans, brainstorm ideas, and assist in deciding what legal entities will best serve the client’s needs.
If other law students are interested in gaining substantive experience and client contact I highly recommend considering the CBJC. The experience has made me feel like a real lawyer who is making a tangible impact.
The externship with the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project instilled commitment in me to work in the immigration field. I learned the complexity of the immigration system while performing various tasks to assist survivors of crime, victims of human trafficking, and refugees. I had the opportunity to conduct intake interviews, draft applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, assist with an adjustment-of-status clinic, attend hearings at an immigration court and federal district courts, and research legal issues and country conditions, among other exciting and meaningful tasks.
It is astonishing how deep I was able to delve into immigration law in a relatively short period. I owe much to the Immigrant Justice Project, which took care to choose projects that would deliver new, rewarding experiences. I cherished every opportunity to learn, observe, and reflect. Some of the other benefits I realized while working at the City Bar Justice Center were the CLE events and the networking events with legal practitioners, which I found invaluable to my professional and personal development.
We wish Angel and Bomy much success in their future careers as attorneys and thank them for their almost 1,000 pro bono hours of assistance to low income New Yorkers. Pro Bono Scholars and Externs apply through their law schools in early Fall 2019 for Spring 2020.
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