During both semesters of my 3L year, I was a student attorney at the Health Advocacy Clinic in Aurora and I have to say that being at the HAC was one of the best parts of law school because I could finally put into practice everything I had learned. I had my own clients and everything! My guided tour of Hesed House, the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois, was also the first time I had ever stepped foot inside a homeless shelter. Parts of my experience at the HAC were heart-wrenching, but upon later reflection (which is critical to the clinical experience), I found that each day was satisfying in its own right.
So when I learned that an AmeriCorps VISTA position opened up at the HAC, I leapt at the chance. The period between finishing studying for the bar exam and landing your first job is beyond stressful even though you suddenly have tons of time on your hands. The fact that I knew I’d be returning to the HAC to work in a community I had become familiar with helped the transition quite a bit.
Being a VISTA here will certainly pose some interesting challenges because I am no longer working directly with clients, but have a more behind-the-scenes role. Also, a VISTA’s pay is purposely limited to be at or near the poverty line. This will allow me to better understand and appreciate the work that the HAC does for its homeless clients. How better to understand your client’s financial instability than to be in a similar position? Granted, I still have my own apartment to come home to every night, which is a stark difference between me and the clients the HAC serves, but the financial limitations of being a VISTA will undoubtedly further teach me humility, a value that is key to a legal career in public service.
I am one week into my year of service and am already impressed by how much work needs to be done so the law students can have a beneficial clinic experience and to increase the capacity of the clinic, which is one of my main focuses. I continue to learn something new every day and the environment here provides tons of opportunity to further hone my community outreach, interviewing, and public relations skills.
I am beyond thrilled to be back at the HAC where, just like when I was a student attorney here, I can leave here knowing that the work being done by not just the HAC, but the Hesed House and Aunt Martha’s Health Care staff, is invaluable and extremely important to the low-income and homeless residents of Kane County.
Class of 2016