Blog Entry 10

Posted by David Koelsch
David Koelsch
David C. Koelsch is an Associate Professor and Director of the Immigration Law C
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on Thursday, 20 October 2011
in Faculty Blogs

Sometimes we gain more from our clients than they gain from us.  As each semester closes, I encourage my students to think back about the lives they have touched these past few months – and how their lives have been touched by their clients.  The relationship between my students and our clients is professional and all facets of the attorney-client ethical rules govern that relationship.  But, as in all human interactions, some people leave more of an impression, make us think or re-think about our positions on various issues, and help us to form a sense of ourselves and why we choose to do certain types of work. 

The students this term had very vivid recollections of their clients and the lessons they had learned from their clients.  From Michael, a man who suffered from debilitating mental illness and rejection from his family yet maintained a positive attitude, students learned humility and empathy.  From Stephanie, a woman whose sister was killed in her home country while she was here, students learned the depths of human sorrow and compassion.  From Janice, a woman who was diagnosed with cancer in the midst of her fight to remain in the U.S., students learned the strength of the human spirit.  From Enrique, who was sexually abused as a boy and lived on the streets of Honduras for years but who will enter college next year, students learned the hope that comes from just struggling to stay alive. 

The clinics teach students essential legal skills but they teach students so much more.  Lawyers have, in some cases, earned a bad reputation and maybe some deserve to be the subject of cruel lawyer jokes.  The goal of the clinics is to show law students that a different path is out there for them to practice law with passion for their clients and a great deal of humility and grace.  Judging from the students who took a clinic at UDM Law and who will graduate next week, I have every confidence they will take that path.

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About the author

David Koelsch

David C. Koelsch is an Associate Professor and Director of the Immigration Law Clinic and the Asylum Law Clinic at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Immigration Law Clinic represents immigrants on a variety of legal issues, including abandoned immigrant children and abused immigrant women. Professor Koelsch also teaches U.S. Immigration Law and a comparative U.S.-Canada Immigration Law course as well as a Seminar on Spirituality and the Law. Koelsch was named the 2009 Outstanding Immigration Law Professor by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.