“This is where it gets fun. This is where it gets really exciting,” Resident Adjunct Professor and LAMP Clinic instructor Brad Colbert told more than 60 Mitchell students who began their client representation clinics this semester. The students will represent clients, ranging from small business owners to persons seeking patents to criminal defendents, through the law school’s clinical program.
Early in the semester, the students gathered at Mitchell for an orientation to the clinics. In addition to Colbert, they heard from four other instructors who shared cases that students worked on in the previous academic year. Diane Dube, who leads Mitchell’s Community Development Clinic, told of students’ work helping small-business owners with legal issues related to the construction of the Central Corridor light rail transit line. Students in Paula Duthoy’s Immigration Law Clinic represented juveniles needing green card status. Joanna Woolman, director of Mitchell’s Reentry Clinic, talked about a recent client who was locked out of her apartment without notice and how a student helped the client sue for damages and fees.
The clinic students also discussed and analyzed professional responsibility issues that arise in the practice of law, from confidentiality considerations to moral dilemmas with clients to their roles as student-lawyers.
Throughout the gathering, clinic directors and instructors emphasized that feeling excited and nervous about beginning clinic work is natural. “You’re making the transition from being a student to being a lawyer,” Professor and Clinic Co-Director Peter Knapp said. “This is the real world, with real clients and real cases.”
Clinics at Mitchell
A signature program at William Mitchell, the clinics, which began in 1973, have enabled more than 5,500 students to serve more than 18,000 clients. Backed by two co-directors, six full-time faculty members, nine supervising adjuncts, and close to 20 field supervisors, Mitchell clinic students handle hundreds of cases and client matters each year.