First Contact

By Karen Osborne, Elder Law Clinic Student, Spring 2015

When a student enrolls in her first clinic at the law school, the emotions range from excitement to trepidation. The areas of legal practice are completely new and the learning curve is steep, but the real anxiety sets in when the student realizes she will have to handle cases independently (with her teammate) and from the very beginning. The professor oversees all work, but may not always be present at client meetings. This independence is empowering, but also intimidating, especially before that first interview.

As my partner and I went to our first client interview, which happened to be at the potential client’s home, we were twenty minutes early. We had left early for fear of becoming lost and being late. We definitely did not want to be late!

Once inside, the family was very welcoming. The house was comfortable and well kept. The matriarch led us to the dining room where we could easily talk with her and other family members. Though the interview was formal, it was also friendly. The prospective clients were quite patient with us, which made asking probing questions easier. Though they knew we were only students, they seemed comfortable giving very personal details of their lives and finances. I was grateful for their relaxed demeanor because it allowed me to be at ease as well. Within a half hour, we had all the information we needed to determine that the Clinic was well-equipped to help them and that they qualified for our assistance.

This first client contact was not only a good learning opportunity, but also an enjoyable experience. It is a wonderful thing to be able to help others in need while putting all the skills we have been learning at school to practice in the pleasant environment created by the Elder Law Clinic.