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Settlement Works: Clinical Program at the University of Iowa ''Immeasurable''

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"I was treated as an adult, and I was challenged to articulate my beliefs, my goals, and my arguments behind why I deserved certain privileges," Ms. Malone said. "To their credit, my parents encouraged me to analyze and problem solve in a manner that has translated very successfully into legal analysis and problem solving."

A native Iowan, Ms. Malone said her choice to pursue studies at the University of Iowa can also be credited to her wise parents. Fans of the Hawkeye football and basketball teams, the Malone clan would frequently attend school games to root for the home team. So, the decision to attend the University of Iowa was only natural. "It seemed to me that the University had so much to offer; a beautiful campus, a large student body that is fairly diverse, an eclectic and cultural small town, and three graduate schools that are among the best in the country."

Ms. Malone graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in May 2002, majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. She said she chose Iowa Law School because while an undergrad she took a combined discipline legal/social studies class at the law school and was so impressed by both the accessibility of the law school faculty and staff as well as the level of intellect demonstrated in the classroom. She said she was also impressed with the national recognition Iowa has as a top-twenty law school and that being an in-state student had the added bonus of enabling her to receive large tuition benefits. "As an English major, I found the writing program at Iowa Law to be unique and much more extensive and intensive than other law schools and this also was very appealing to me," said Ms. Malone.

Currently a third year law student at the University of Iowa, she is enrolled in the much heralded Clinical Law program. During her first semester she worked full time in the Criminal Defense and Immigration departments and has nothing but praise for the program. "The clinical law program at Iowa has offered immeasurable relevance and legitimacy to my legal studies, and has also given me an enormous sense of confidence in my skills as a future practitioner."

In the Criminal Defense area she was given 5-7 misdemeanor cases at a time, ranging from identity theft, and aggravated felony, to possession of alcohol under the legal limit. For each case, Ms. Malone conducted client interviews, made court appearances on their behalf, discussed plea agreements with prosecutors, conducted legal research and wrote legal letters, motions or memoranda. "In Iowa, the misdemeanor system works in a very similar manner to the felony criminal system, therefore, our exposure and knowledge of the legal process in misdemeanor convictions is directly translatable to work in felony cases upon graduation. This is very valuable."

In the immigration department she was given 3-4 cases dealing with immigration issues such as asylum applications, withholding of removal, petitions for family members, and routine filings for employment authorizations or address changes. "Practicing immigration law requires developing the skills to interpret very complex statutory language, and being able to understand the implications many different areas of the law have on immigration law," said Ms. Malone. "In addition, immigration work requires extensive research into the conditions of other countries throughout the world, and is a very interesting foray into international law."

Ms. Malone was also assigned to a commutation case that she is preparing an application for clemency for a client given life in prison for kidnap and rape. She said the case is ongoing and complex and requires her to be in contact with the prisoner and his family and friends. "I have had to research the Iowa Code regarding executive clemency and will have to make many complex legal arguments."

This semester Ms. Malone is taking another three hours of credit to work in the clinic and has continued working on her commutation case and working in the immigration department. She will work another three hours next semester as well. Regarding the clinical program, Ms. Malone said she greatly applauds the clinical advisors who provide valuable "insight into the legal field and strike a fantastic balance of treating the clinical students as colleagues and as junior associates while still maintaining supervisory authority over our work." She said because of their mastery in their subject areas and exceptional guidance she feels prepared and confident for life in the real world.

"I believe the clinic has been a means for me to develop client counseling and interviewing skills, courtroom skills, research skills - so many things that come with the actual practice of law - that I don't believe people who do not work in the clinical program are exposed to this early in their legal careers," Ms. Malone said. "My confidence in my legal skills has grown immensely, and confidence is imperative in this field."

The University of Iowa


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