WIdan wrote:Do any of the current students know much about or have experience with any of the following clinics?
Criminal Appellate Clinic
Are there particular clinics that are most popular and therefore harder to get into?
The Criminal Appellate clinic is taught by a couple of the attorneys from the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office. It's an outstanding experience that everyone seems to like. People take it even if they're not interested in criminal work, but just appellate litigation in general. The one attorney who teaches it said they're oversubscribed every term (they only take 12). He said they will give preference to 3Ls and people who haven't gotten into any clinic before when deciding who to take. When you apply for clinics, do try to apply for two or three if you have a genuine interest in them. People basically get assigned in a big meeting where the instructors sit down with all the apps and just horse trade for who gets who. They'll consider what you want, but they also try to find a spot for everyone, as best they can.
I have no idea how "hard" it is to get into the Innocence Clinic, but I got in, so take that for what it's worth. That one is a year-long commitment, so keep that in mind (I saw that as a plus, but I imagine that not everyone would). Most of the clinics don't look at anything other than a 100 word statement that you write about why you want your first choice. Only a couple of them ask for a resume. So I think it helps to make your statement focused, pointed, and interesting. Try to convey not only why the work the clinic does matters to you, but also how what you can bring will serve the clients that they take. Unlike classes, in the clinic it's all about the client. These are real people counting on YOU to solve their problems. Little problems like, you know, spending the rest of their lives in prison.
Also, if you have a problem getting into the clinics as classes but you still want the experience, keep in mind that several of them take on students to work cases over the summer (and unlike most public interest gigs, they will pay you). The Child Advocacy Clinic also has a named fellowship that you can apply for to work there in the summer (it's actually for child advocacy work anywhere, but the CAC at Michigan happens to take a number of the fellows each year).
You may not get your first choice the first time around, but if you apply for at least two and just keep trying, then you will definitely get into something before you graduate. I get the feeling that if they see your name come up a second or third time, then they will find some way to fit you in somewhere.