#PennLawLife: Learning outside the classroom
This blog series from current students examines aspects of #PennLawLife.
During my time as a 1L at Penn Law, I’ve learned as much outside the classroom as I have inside. I attribute this to my experience as a member of the Custody and Support Assistance Clinic (CASAC), a program run by Penn students through the Toll Public Interest Center to help low-income Philadelphians with custody, child support, and protection from abuse issues. Starting in my very first weeks as a 1L, I met with clients and was entrusted with clients’ most important and personal problems. I heard about child abuse, domestic violence, parents withholding children, and more. But instead of simply listening, now I was in a position to do something.
Under the supervision of an attorney at Philadelphia Legal Aid and with the help of 2L and 3L students who have participated in CASAC for over a year, I learned how to advise and manage my own clients. Although I had just begun my 1L classes, I was able to explain the family court system to my clients and prepare them for hearings and conferences. I was given a great deal of responsibility and each case presented new legal challenges. As I met with each client, I learned more about family court and family law.
It was the most rewarding feeling when the first motion that I wrote on behalf of a client was granted by the court. Whether a client called me to share her success at a custody hearing, or when clients simply called me to thank me for my help, I felt I was making an impact.
My experience at CASAC taught me how unique Penn’s commitment is — not just to learning, but also to pro bono work and the surrounding Philadelphia community. In such a short time, I have gained professional skills and learned the value of teamwork. CASAC taught me that as an aspiring lawyer, I had the ability to change people’s lives. I am only excited to continue with pro bono work as I carry on into my second and third years and beyond.
By Arielle Herzberg L’16