LLS Clinical Experience Inspires Public Defense Career
Marlon Llanes ’18 decided to pursue a legal career because he wanted to help people. As a student in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic, Llanes had the opportunity to do just that. He represented wrongfully convicted youth handed functional life sentences in the Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing (JIFS) Clinic and children in delinquency court in the Juvenile Justice Clinic. [Watch Marlon discuss his experience in the JIFS 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 wanted to help people. One of my close friends was in Loyola’s JIFS Clinic. After hearing about the program and the rest of the clinics, I knew I wanted to get involved as soon as I had the opportunity.
Q: How did your participation in clinics make a difference in your Loyola education?
A: Participation in clinics was a game changer for me. It opened my eyes to the injustices perpetrated by the criminal justice system. It helped me find my calling as a public defender. It also provided me with my first opportunity to fulfill the goal I had when I first came to law school: to help real clients in need.
Q: What have been the most memorable parts of your experience?
A: The most memorable parts of my experience have been working alongside some of the most brilliant and passionate advocates and my clients. Seeing my clients smile when no one would in their circumstances would smile – that sticks with you.
Q: What about your clinical experience surprised you?
A: The most surprising aspect of the clinical experience is how much real experience they give you. Professors guide and train you, but they really let you handle as much as you prepare yourself to handle. I was cross-examining police officers my first semester in the Juvenile Justice Clinic!
Q: How did it feel to put your classroom knowledge to work for clients?
A: Once I had the opportunity to put the classroom knowledge to work for the clients, everything clicked. It gave me that "Oh, this is why we do the work" moment.
Q: How has your clinical experience prepared you to be an attorney for others?
A: The clinical experience prepared me to be an attorney for others by giving me the necessary skills. I learned how to interview clients, investigate cases, think strategically, negotiate with DAs and conduct mitigation hearings. And I learned all of these things in the classroom and in the field, with actual clients and actual cases.
Q: Finish this sentence: "If my time in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic has taught me anything, it is _________"
A: If my time in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic has taught me anything, it is that we are never alone. There is a community of fierce and relentless advocates fighting for social justice, and one of the best communities is here at my law school.