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streamline our online connections with other students, legal advocates and
supervising lawyers. I think that when the ICLC resumes in-person operations,
the online systems we’ve created will help us improve our services
for our clients.
Why is it important for the ICLC to continue operations?
Even though some governmental bodies have shut down or slowed down
during the pandemic (such as some of the court systems), there is still a lot
of work that can be done for our clients. The community that we are serving
has so many varied legal needs that it is absolutely still possible to make
progress on all types of files despite the extraordinary circumstances. I have
several files on which I was actually able to achieve more for the client in
the past few weeks than I may have been able to do if we were still operating
as normal, as I was able to dedicate more time to the research.
In relation to the clients, cutting off our working relationships with them
would have gone against all of the trauma-informed legal practice techniques
that we learned about earlier this semester. We received a significant
amount of training at the beginning of the semester about how to work with
clients who have experienced trauma of all types, as this is the common
experience of those we serve at the clinic. The idea of trauma-informed
lawyering is that you focus on the needs of the client, listening well, serving
them respectfully and overall having compassion. Relationship and trust
building are central at the clinic. I have learned so much more about treating
people empathetically in a professional setting this semester as a result.
For me personally, the clinic has really fundamentally changed my
worldview, and it has been a very emotional journey. I think that if the
clinic had ceased operations, it would have been very jarring overall for my
own sense of well-being not to have a natural end to the relationships and
work into which I have been investing so much energy all semester.
What have been some of the major challenges with working remotely? And how
have these been overcome?
One of the biggest challenges has been not being able to work with my peers
on a day-to-day basis. We have an open-concept office, so all semester I was
in the same room as nine other students and one practicum student. It was
a great experience to be able to be in the same space together. As I began
the transition to online work, the biggest struggle for me was feeling isolated
from my peers. As a result, I rely on the supervising lawyers a lot
more in some ways than I did when we were operating as normal.
The supervising lawyers have really helped us to still feel like a community.
We’ve maintained the same schedule as normal operations, which has