Many new lawyers ask me, “What is the best way to get experience, mentorship, and training?” I always respond, “Get out there and get involved!” There are two main opportunities that provide wonderful experience and training to young lawyers that I would like to focus on here.
If you are looking for opportunities to sharpen your issue-spotting and client interviewing skills, look no further than your local community clinics. Many law schools and non-profits have clinics and they have the dual benefit of providing an important service to the public, while also providing opportunities for professional growth.
In my capacity as the director of the new solo practice accelerator at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, I supervise six free legal clinics throughout San Diego County. We have provided over 1,000 consultations since we began and the number of people coming for help continues to rise. Our busiest clinic is at the El Cajon Public Library on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm. On the first Tuesday of every week, we host a clinic from 4pm to 6pm at the Sherman Heights Community Center. Finally, we host a clinic on the third Monday of every month from 3pm to 5pm at the Otay-Nestor library in San Diego’s District 8. Those last two clinics are done as a service to and in collaboration with San Diego City Council Member David Alvarez.
If you are looking for opportunities to be more confident and successful in the courtroom, then look no further than the SDCBA or the San Diego Inn of Court. Both organizations offer critical trial advocacy training (the SDCBA’s criminal trial advocacy and civil trial advocacy programs are available through their CLE on Demand catalogue). Both organizations will provide you with the tools you need to succeed.
There are many ways to get involved as a young lawyer, but these two are rich in detailed and meaningful training. These also present a way to meet more experienced lawyers who are invested in the importance of mentoring those who are new to the profession.
If you have questions about getting involved in your local community law clinics, please email me at LMcCoy@TJSL.EDU.