By: Shelby Mueller ’23
Thank you to the many donors for funding the Family Violence & Women’s Rights Clinic Summer Fellowship at the University at Buffalo School of Law, which allowed me to continue the work that I love. I have been pursuing a career as an attorney in the public interest field since seventh grade, and I am beyond grateful to have extended my position from the spring semester as the Student Attorney for the Family Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic at the law school.
The Family Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic offers an experience unlike any other by giving a law student the chance to actually practice law. As Professor Judith Olin, the clinic’s supervising attorney, says, we get the opportunity to practice law in slow motion, and that is the best way I can describe my experience. I was able to get away from the textbooks and classic research found in the classroom and other internships and work on what, I think, truly matters. Being a Student Attorney is incredibly rewarding because I am able to work with clients on a daily basis, learn about their lives, and put their concerns into a petition to help them seek the relief they need.
I know this I am starting to sound like a spokeswoman for the Clinic, but let me tell you about a specific experience I had in order to demonstrate the truly meaningful work that I have done:
After spending approximately six hours with a client drafting a Family Offense Petition, I argued for an Order of Protection in court the following day. I wrote and rewrote the petition based on edits from my supervising attorney, created exhibits, and went to Family Court to argue in front of a judge. Those twenty-four hours were a whirlwind, but, by the end, we were granted an Order of Protection in favor of our client. Painstakingly going through the less-than-glamorous details of the client’s life was certainly not an easy task for myself or the client, but it solidified my desire to continue in this line of work. Throughout the summer, I have had the pleasure of cultivating an attorney-client relationship and have continued working with this client on other matters that the Clinic is handling.
With the support and guidance of my supervising attorneys, I have drafted and filed numerous petitions, attended court appearances, worked directly with clients, and communicated with opposing counsel. When I first started the Clinic, I remember wondering how they could possibly trust me, a law student, to do this work. Now, I am confident in my ability to become a successful attorney and could not have chosen a better way to spend my summer. Not only has this work given me confidence and taught me how to be an attorney, it has taught me compassion, patience, and understanding.
Thank you again to all the donors for their generosity and thank you to my supervising attorneys for allowing me to make mistakes, ask questions, and grow as an attorney.
Name: Shelby Mueller
Name of Fellowship: Family Violence & Women’s Rights Clinic Summer Fellowship
Placement: University at Buffalo School of Law
Location: Buffalo, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “I was able to get away from the textbooks and classic research found in the classroom and other internships and work on what, I think, truly matters.”