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Crime Victim Litigation Clinic

Jesse Neilson

  • Jessie Neilson

How did participating in CLVC inform your thinking about law and/or your career path?

Participating in CLVC informed my thinking about how the law impacts people because it gave me a foundation in trauma. As a legal aid lawyer, I work with many survivors of domestic violence. Even my clients who are not survivors of domestic violence are experiencing a great deal of trauma. Learning the science behind trauma and learning to work in a trauma-informed way has been very influential on my career. I believe you cannot provide competent services without providing trauma-informed services, and CVLC is where I built that foundation. 

Why should law students consider becoming a part of CLVC?

There are three primary reasons to consider CLVC. First, CLVC gives you a good idea of what it means to work in a nonprofit, public interest legal setting. You’ll learn how to operate as part of a mission-driven team, and you’ll learn some very practical skills like how to effectively keep track of your time. Second, you will have an opportunity to work on a variety of projects, such as writing legal memoranda, contributing to briefs, or supporting legislative advocacy. The issues that you deal with at CVLC tend to be cutting edge. They can involve arguing a new perspective on constitutional provisions or arguing matters of first impression with new or little-used statutory provisions. You’ll become a better lawyer after spending time working on these legal issues. Creative lawyering is valuable and you can hone that creativity at CVLC. Third, you gain valuable knowledge and skills at CVLC in terms of serving people experiencing trauma and becoming aware of the effects that serving people experiencing trauma has on you as an advocate. This is a critical lens for most public interest work that is just not offered anywhere else in law school.

If you could say one thing to a student considering taking the CVLC what would it be?

I learned a lot in law school, but CVLC in particular is where I learned to lawyer. I am a better advocate and a more complete lawyer because of my experience at CVLC.