SWLAW Blog | Future Students

Legal Clinic Leaders Series — Bryon Alvarez

April 5, 2024

Legal Clinic Leaders Series — Bryon Alvarez

Meet the students who work directly with and in the community to provide quality legal representation to underserved individuals through our Legal Clinic Leaders blog series. We're excited to spotlight these all-star advocates and showcase the many different fields of law you can explore through our legal clinics and the wide range of opportunities available at Southwestern to gain practical lawyering skills. We hope their experiences will inspire YOU to join a legal clinic.

Meet 3L Bryon Alvarez 

  • Eviction Defense Clinic, Spring 2023
  • Appellate Litigation Clinic, Fall 2023 and Spring 2024
  • Advanced Community Lawyering Clinic, Fall 2023 and Spring 2024

Why did you decide to participate in a clinic?

I came to Southwestern Law School knowing I wanted a career dedicated to public interest law and social justice advocacy. Participating in a legal clinic was the perfect opportunity to not only learn different parts of the law that would uplift working-class communities but also to receive individual mentorship and training from clinical professors passionate about their field. Southwestern's legal clinics challenged my legal research and writing skills while also allowing me to incorporate trauma-informed lawyering into my advocacy.

What skills and knowledge did you learn from your clinic experience?

I learned that, at the end of the day, legal advocacy is about people. Humanizing individuals and treating them with compassion is inextricably linked to legal advocacy. Appreciate your clients throughout all phases of their case because when they share their stories, it is a powerful moment of vulnerability that is not easy and should be respected.

What did you learn about yourself through your clinic experience?

I learned that I am much more capable than I give myself credit for. To grow personally and professionally, I had to challenge myself and put myself in uncomfortable situations. It was during those experiences that true growth happened.

What helped take you from student to advocate?

Taking ownership of my own learning and caseload, along with the autonomy and support given by clinical professors. This included asking for support and trusting the process to develop my own legal skills.

What words of advice would you have for future clinic students?

Make the most of your clinical experience by pushing yourself. Do not sacrifice compassion and kindness for the efficiency of casework. Be intentional throughout every part of your legal advocacy.

What aspects of the clinics motivated you to participate in more than one?

As a public interest advocate and future community lawyer, I wanted to explore and take advantage of all the clinical opportunities I could while at Southwestern. The amazing mentorship and professional development I received from the clinics motivated me to return. The clinical professors are immensely passionate about their fields and have inspired students like myself to dedicate their careers to public interest law.

What key insight did you gain from each clinical program you participated in?

I participated in three clinics at Southwestern: the Eviction Defense Clinic, the Community Lawyering Clinic, and the Appellate Litigation Clinic. As a student of the Eviction Defense Clinic, I attended trials and depositions regarding clients facing eviction and other housing issues. This clinic taught me how litigation and lawyering can uplift and support clients facing immediate crises such as housing insecurity. As a student of the Community Lawyering Clinic, I had the opportunity to work on humanitarian immigration cases for individuals who are survivors of a crime. I learned how important it is to be compassionate to the individuals you serve and how the law can be used as a positive force to reunite families who have been separated for decades. As a student of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, I worked with a group of students to file an appellate brief to the Ninth Circuit, appealing our client's deportation case. Throughout this experience, I learned the value of being uncomfortable with new opportunities and the importance of pushing our legal advocacy skills for ourselves and the communities we seek to serve. Sometimes, you surprise yourself with your abilities and accomplish things you never thought possible.

Interested in learning more about the legal clinics? Visit our Clinics page here