During the first days of the fall semester, Advocacy Clinic students plunge right into legal work through a new, five-day Advocacy Clinic Boot Camp designed to engage the students in interviewing, counseling, and negotiation skills. For the Boot Camp simulation, which is based on an actual clinic case, students interview and counsel their “first” client, who is played by an actor from the university’s theater program. “Working with actors in the Advocacy Clinic Boot Camp allowed me to relieve my anxiety about interviewing clients, which I had not done in my law school career,” says 3L Meagan Davis. “It was a great test run.”
And Boot Camp feels real to students. “I truly believed the actor was my client,” says 3L Sam Chitrit.
The client interviews are videotaped, enabling Advocacy Clinic professors Wendy Bach and Joy Radice to watch each video and require each student team to watch another team’s client interview. In the class that follows, the clinic professor engages the students in a discussion of what went well during the interview and what needs improvement. Students critique themselves and their peers, and the actors give individualized feedback, enabling the students to learn about their interviewing and counseling styles and how clients perceive them as lawyers.
“Boot Camp prepared me for the rigors of the Advocacy Clinic,” says student Clinton Sprinkle. “I was forced not only to prepare but to react to the unknown. The Boot Camp experience definitely helped prepare me for this semester.”