By Lori Atherton
If Hannah Gold, '12, could make one recommendation to Michigan Law students, it would be to take a clinic. "I don't think I would have been as successful in law school if I hadn't started down the clinic path," she said. "It's a really good change of pace from first-year classes, and it gives you a lot of valuable experiences you otherwise wouldn't have at law school."
Gold came to Michigan Law after having taught first grade in the Bronx. She thought she wanted to work at a law firm, but after taking the Child Advocacy Law Clinic (CALC) and the Juvenile Justice Clinic, her decision to represent children and parents was cemented.
She worked on numerous cases in both clinics, which provided her with practical lawyering skills as well as important lessons associated with representing clients. In CALC, for instance, one of Gold's cases involved working with her client to give up his parental rights. Though it was a "difficult case to work on," Gold said it "was clear that we had worked to do the best we could for him. It was an interesting lesson in how things don't always work out, but you can be a good lawyer for your clients, as best as the situation will allow."
Clinic students are taught to follow through on cases from beginning to end, Gold said, which proved to be invaluable during her 2L summer internship with a Seattle public defender organization. "I don't think they expected me to be as prepared as I was," she said. "I could just walk in and take a case, because that's what I had been doing."
Now, Gold is putting the skills she learned to good use at the Center for Children and Youth Justice in Seattle, where she is doing legislative and advocacy work on behalf of at-risk children. Gold is a project coordinator for the Lawyers Furthering Education program, which connects truant students with pro bono attorneys who work to solve the family issues that are causing the students' absences. She also works with the Becca Task Force, a group of judges, lawyers, legislators, and service providers who are working to improve Washington's truancy laws.
Gold credits her clinic professors with helping her get the job. "I think one of the most important parts of the clinic, besides the personal experience, was the networking," she said. "Building relationships with professors was really important to me, and has paid off in every job I've looked for since. When I came to Seattle and asked my clinical professors if they knew people out here, instantly I had many people to contact. My clinic experience has been invaluable to my work."
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