Given the many hours of independent reading and researching that accompany a 1L experience, I sometimes lose track of how interpersonal the legal profession really is. Although esoteric legal concepts frequently occupy my thoughts, I try to remember that the practice of law is really the act of solving real-world problems for real-world individuals. In the spirit of this mindset, I decided to join William & Mary’s Student Legal Services team.
Student Legal Services was established by William & Mary Law students who hoped to use their abilities to serve other members of the College community. The organization is entirely student-run, and relies on over thirty-five volunteers to staff its office on William & Mary’s main campus. From room 316 in Blow Memorial Hall, Student Legal Service volunteers research whatever legal issues the students and staff of the College bring to the office. Cases involving landlord-tenant disputes or criminal citations are common, but the office has handled a much greater variety of cases in the past.
In order to provide the best assistance possible, the Student Legal Services team has an established system. Members of the campus community are encouraged to set up an appointment in order to discuss their legal questions confidentially. Once a member of S.L.S. team has documented the details of an community member’s legal problem on an intake form, volunteers draw on their researching skills to find all applicable laws. As law students who have not yet passed the Virginia Bar, S.L.S. volunteers are forbidden from providing clients with any recommendations beyond the explicit text of the law. Even so, clients often leave with a much clear sense of what laws will be applied to their specific legal issues.
I would recommend S.L.S. to anyone interested in gaining some hands-on experience with the law. Although law school can be quite academic in nature, William & Mary’s Student Legal Services has definitely provided me with the refreshing opportunity to assist with real-world legal problems.
Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.