By David Brand
As another semester begins at the St. John’s School of Law, second and third-year students have a chance to apply their legal training through the school’s various law clinics.
There are currently 10 in-house and partner clinics at St. John’s Law, including the Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic. The school also hosts 11 academic centers, including the Public Interest Center.
School of Law spokesperson Lori Herz said the experience that students gain in the clinics and centers often “seals the deal” for those considering careers in public interest law.
That was the case for Allie Cabibbo, who is entering her final year as a St. John’s student.
“I love my clinic work,” Cabibbo told the School of Law website. “I carry my own caseload pursuant to a Student Practice Order that allows me to represent clients in criminal court. I have all the duties of a criminal defense lawyer and handle all aspects of my clients’ cases.”
Cabibbo said her responsibilities include conducting the initial client interview; representing clients at arraignment, bail applications and hearings; pursuing case investigations; writing, filing and arguing motions on behalf of the client; and representing the client at all court appearances.
“St. John’s Law is committed to serving the greater good through the Public Interest Center and its programs,” Cabbibo said.
Students are not required to participate in the clinics, but those who do seem to have an advantage by learning first-hand how to work in a public service or courtroom setting.
Most students recognize the opportunity that the centers and clinics afford them, Herz said.
“I’ve interviewed a lot of students and clinic experience is one of the things they are looking for [from their time in school],” she said.
But the clinics aren’t a break from classroom course work.
“The [Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic] is demanding, and students should carefully consider this in light of their other commitments and goals,” reads the clinic’s website. “Students wishing to take the Clinic must possess a high degree of maturity and the willingness and ability to shoulder the substantial responsibilities of a practicing attorney.”
Participants must devote at least 13 hours per week to their clinic cases and keep office hours four days a week. Students also spend time making court appearances, conducting library research and performing other clinic work.
Over the summer, 20 St. John’s Law students served as Summer Public Interest Fellows at prominent legal nonprofits citywide, including the Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defenders and Safe Passage Project, which works with unaccompanied minors facing deportation proceedings.
Soon, a new crop of Red Storm students will get the chance to peruse and pursue the vital clinics and centers.
The Class of 2021 arrived to campus yesterday for orientation. The first-year students participated in a mock class, took the oath of professionalism administered by Hon. Randall Eng, and posed for LinkedIn profile headshots — as well as a selfie with Dean Mike Simons.
The students also began their actual course work with “Introduction to Law,” a two-week intensive immersion in legal study.