By Majda Muhic, Fall 2016 Student Intern
I walked into the clinic my third year of law school clueless about securities law and eager to gain practical lawyering skills that, I hoped, would ease my transition from law school to practice. I will be walking out of my first clinic semester with a solid understanding of FINRA arbitration and an understanding of securities and securities law that only two months ago seemed insurmountable. Perhaps more importantly, I will also be walking out more confident in my own ability to represent clients, stronger in my own identity as a young lawyer, and with a set of skills that are bound to make my impending transition to practice a whole lot smoother.
The time I spent working in the clinic – while at times challenging – has been fun, exciting, and surprisingly rewarding. Receiving a phone call indicating that the other side may be willing to resolve a dispute informally after they received a letter my clinic team wrote was a uniquely rewarding experience – an experience that reminded me of our power and responsibility as young lawyers. This experience also reminded me of why I am in law school. Learning law between insular walls of classrooms often obscures the realities of why we do what we do. For me personally, keeping this perspective – keeping the end goal of client advocacy in sight – has been crucial to my success as a law student. The clinic nurtured this perspective in an environment that encouraged and pushed learning and was, at the same time, safe and supportive. With a combination of small and large team work, individualized attention, and work that ranged from interviewing clients to writing Statements of Claims, the clinic has been a sort of law practice incubator that pushed and nourished me at the same time. It has honed my skills while putting them in a practical and meaningful context.
Our collaboration with the Georgia Secretary of State office has been particularly exciting, as it has provided me with a more comprehensive view of securities law beyond merely representing clients in disputes. Working with lawyers at the Georgia Secretary of State office provided me with a glimpse into the regulatory side of securities law, a perspective that classroom teaching often overlooks. Again, this unique experience reminded me of our power and responsibility as young lawyers.
The clinic experience was illuminating in yet another way: it allowed me to recognize and appreciate some of my own strengths and weaknesses as a budding lawyer. Identifying strengths has been empowering. Identifying weaknesses and navigating them in a safe and supportive environment has been infinitely encouraging. Both my personal and professional growth in such a short time span have exceeded any expectations – at least my own.