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Blakely/The Daily Mississippian
(left to right) Mary-Carole Young, of White Hall Ark., and Erica Stevens, of Washington D.C., are sworn in by Judge Andrew K. Howorth Friday at the Lafayette County courthouse.
Law students from the University of Mississippi can now practice law under the Law Student Limited Practice Act.
Approximately 35 third-year law students were sworn in at the Lafayette County Courthouse Friday afternoon.
The Law Student Limited Practice Act of Mississippi Code of 1972 states that law students may “engage in limited practice under that act” while a licensed attorney supervises.
“The first two years of law school is truly book and academic,” said Hans Sinha, clinical professor and director of the prosecutorial externship program.
The third-year students will now get the chance to actually represent clients.
Circuit Judge Andrew K. Howorth and Michael P. Mills, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi, swore in the students Friday.
A large group of students were sworn in by Howorth first. They raised their right hands and repeated the oath.
Howorth then reminded the students that although they can legally practice law, they still have to pass the Bar exam.
“What you have done today is falling off a log. You’ll still have to pass the Bar exam, and I wish you good luck,” Howorth said.
Mills swore in two students who will work with a U.S. attorney.
The students will work in university-run clinics, Sinha said.
The clinics are “for clients who can’t afford an attorney,” Sinha said.
The clinics include civil law, criminal appeals, prosecutorial externship and public service.
The civil law clinic includes many other clinics, including elder law, legislative, children’s advocacy, consumer law, domestic violence and street clinics, said clinical professor Debbie Bell.
Many of the students will work in Mississippi, while students in the prosecutorial externship clinic will work with U.S. attorneys and prosecutors, he said.
The students will be doing everything a real lawyer would do, including advising counsel and other capacities, said Julie Waterstone, staff attorney and visiting clinic professor.
Bell said the students were getting their first real introduction into the legal system.
Mary-Carole Young, a third-year law student from White Hall, Ark., who was sworn in Friday, said she was excited to be sworn in.
“It was kind of surreal,” she said.
“It’s really exciting, because it’s the first time to act as an attorney instead of as a student,” Young said.
Young said she will work in the elder law clinic, which helps the elderly with issues such as writing wills and power of attorney.
Jacinta Hall of Jackson was also sworn in Friday.
She will work in the juvenile advocacy clinic.
“This is an experience not talked about a lot. All law students should do this. You’re getting the chance to help others who can’t otherwise help themselves in these matters,” she said.