Loyola's Consumer Bankruptcy Clinic offers law students a unique opportunity to work directly with clients in need. Instruction focuses on substantive bankruptcy law and procedure and addresses issues involving professional responsibility within the bankruptcy context. One class will also be devoted to consumer law issues that all bankruptcy practitioners should be familiar with. During the semester, students interview up to four people looking to file for bankruptcy protection. They will analyze their financial situation, prepare documents and bankruptcy petitions, and counsel them on how to properly navigate their way through the bankruptcy process.
Kimiko Elguea ’19, Consumer Bankruptcy Clinic
Q: Why did you decide to pursue law school, and how did Loyola's clinical offerings impact that decision?
A: I decided to pursue law school because I was a fifth grade teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District and, while teaching, I realized that if I had any hope of making changes in my students' lives, it meant that I had to go to law school. Loyola's clinical offerings impacted my decision because I knew they were committed to social justice and would give me the opportunities I needed to pursue my goals of effecting change.
Q: How did your participation in your clinic make a difference in your Loyola education?
A: Every day when I was working at the Consumer Bankruptcy Litigation Practice (CBLP), I saw how much stress my pro bono clients were in when they came to see me. So many of them looked desperate, so many broke down in tears in front of me -- and, they looked at me as though I was the answer to all of their problems. Although I felt like I couldn't do much for them because I was just a law student, I realized that I had the power to do really good things for the world one day -- and I promised myself then and there at the clinic that I would use all of my power for good.
Q: What has been the most memorable part of your experience?
A: The most memorable part of my experience was when I helped a client get his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition approved by the court. After getting his petition approved, the client came back to me at the clinic and, with tears streaming down his eyes, took my hand and said, "God bless you."
Q: What about your clinical experience surprised you?
A: It was harder than I thought it was going to be! The summer before working at the clinic, I had taken Bankruptcy with Professor Anne Wells and I had done well in her class. So, I guess you could say that I didn't think working at the clinic was going to be very hard. Working at the clinic taught me that learning the law in a classroom is very different from applying the law in a real-life setting.
Q: How did it feel to put your classroom knowledge to work for clients?
A: Very cool -- and scary too! It was cool to actually get a taste of what my life would be after graduating from Loyola. But, at the same time, it was very scary because I was working with real people, rather than just people in a class hypothetical. The folks coming to see me at the clinic were already having such a tough time in life because they were filing bankruptcy, I didn't want to make their lives any worse.
Q: How has your clinical experience prepared you to be an attorney for others?
A: From CBLP I learned that being an attorney only means something if you're using your skills to help others. What I really appreciated about CBLP was that it wasn't just the poor who needed bankruptcy help. It was the rich, too. Lots of people -- both rich and poor -- find themselves in difficult financial positions. This helped me realize that social justice is for everyone, not just the rich and not just the poor.
Q: Finish this sentence: "If my time in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic has taught me anything, it is _________"
A: That I am exceptionally privileged to get the tools necessary to go out and help others who are not in as fortunate as a position as me.