It is not often that the learning process of future professionals crosses paths with an ability to help those in need, but the St. John’s University School of Law’s clinical program provides just that opportunity.
The law clinics office, which houses the Elder Law Clinic, Securities Arbitration Clinic and the Child Advocacy Clinic, was recently created as part of the University’s ongoing renovation plan. Housed on the second floor of Belson Hall, the office provides much needed space for the clinical programs since its opening at the beginning of the Fall semester. The construction of the new offices cost a reported $1.2 million.
“We’ve been hoping to have this done for a long time,” said Ann Goldweber, the Dircector of the Elder Law Clinic and Director of Clinical Education. “We started the process [of designing the new clinical offices] last Fall.”
Goldweber explained that the first step in the process was deciding exactly how the space should be used.
“I went to several different schools and looked at their clinic spaces,” she said. “We decided what we wanted and built it.”The clinical program allows students to earn four credits while working 13 hours per week in one of the clinics.
“They represent real clients in real cases,” Goldweber explained, adding that “it’s all under faculty supervision.
“It enables the student to work in a very professional environment. It’s a real law office. It also shows the extent to which the Law School and the University support the students here.”
The Elder Law Clinic, Goldweber explained, deals with “older, lower-income people,” who are involved in lawsuits over consumer fraud, predatory lenders, debt collection issues or other similar conflicts. The goals of the clinic, Goldweber stated in a University release, are to “provide quality legal representation to Clinic clients who would otherwise go unrepresented, and to teach students how to become effective advocates.”
Goldweber said that the Child Advocacy Clinic represents abused and neglected children in family court, while the Securities Arbitration Clinic represents small investors who have been defrauded when making investments.
The Law School celebrated the addition of the new offices with a reception Oct. 19. Over 100 current and former clinical students attended the event, according to a University release.Goldweber expressed her satisfaction with the new offices, as they not only provide a better working environment for the students, but welcome clients into the clinical programs.
“It sends a message to all of our clients that we are a professional office,” she said. “We’re very happy to have the new space.”