[Original Posted on the Office of Clinical and Pro-Bono Programs Blog, March 27th, 2017]
By Asheley Walker, J.D. ’17
I enrolled in the Transactional Law Clinics primarily because I wanted practical legal experience. I came to law school knowing I wanted to be a transactional attorney, but few, if any, of my classes gave me much insight into what it would be like to practice transactional law. I also wanted to work directly with clients. I worked in sales for startups and larger technology companies before law school, and I missed regular interaction with clients, including learning about their businesses, identifying how I could create value for them, and becoming a trusted advisor, not just a salesperson.
My experience in the Clinic delivered on both of those points. Because the Clinic operates like a small law firm, I interacted with clients directly and managed my own caseload of four to five clients each semester. While the learning curve for substantive issues was steep at times, I enjoyed the challenge and received more than adequate support from the Clinic. I researched legal issues independently, bounced ideas off of other student advocates, and discussed conclusions and lingering questions with my supervising attorney to get feedback before presenting my findings to the client.
I worked on a wide range of transactional issues during my two semesters in the Clinic. I counseled clients in choosing the right entity form for their business and goals, formed for-profit and nonprofit LLCs and corporations, drafted bylaws, and educated clients as to their ongoing corporate formalities requirements. Unexpectedly, I became somewhat of an expert about the eligibility requirements and application process for tax-exempt status, and I plan to harness that knowledge and experience in the pro bono work I do going forward. I spent the majority of my time drafting contracts, including privacy policies, terms of service, service agreements, and commercial real estate leases. I discovered that I love the jigsaw puzzle-like nature of contract drafting: taking the individual pieces and figuring out how to put them together to make the final product look (or work) the way that I wanted it to.
The Clinic serves a diverse set of clients, and I had the opportunity to work with clients ranging from Harvard students running startups to members of the Boston community looking to start a small business or nonprofit. I found it incredibly rewarding to draw on both my professional experience and my legal education to help underserved populations address legal challenges, mitigate risk, and identify ways to achieve their goals. My Clinic experience affirmed my desire to be a transactional attorney and helped prepare me for practice after graduation.