This month, Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu presided over the annual swearing-in ceremony for UW Law’s incoming and returning clinic students.

The virtual ceremony marked this year’s start to students’ work with clients and in their communities. In 2020-21, more than 120 students are among UW Law’s 11 clinics, which build on the foundational skills learned in the first years of law school and provide opportunities to gain real-world legal experience.

“At this moment in time, I can see no more important way for you to use your education, and I’m grateful for your presence and the work you do,” said Christine Cimini, associate dean for Experiential Education, in her opening remarks.

Justice Yu addressed the students and discussed the importance of public service throughout the legal profession. She then donned her black robe and administered the Washington State Oath of Attorney, during which the students pledged to serve their clients with integrity and to abide by the rule of law.

“You all have something in common, and that is recognizing that service happens now,” Justice Yu said to the students. “There is still a dimension of being a lawyer that is the call to serve the common good. We have to continuously examine what we can do individually and what we can do together to bring about institutional change.”

This year presents unique challenges given most efforts will be conducted remotely as a result of COVID-19.

However, Yu said, this reality is rife with opportunities to be creative and find new ways to advocate effectively for those who need legal services during this unprecedented time.

“People will look back at this time and wonder how we pivoted,” Yu said. “You are going to be the people who show us the way — the people who will be proof positive that we can transcend these obstacles.”

Clinical law is a pillar of UW Law’s Experiential Learning programs. Starting their 2L years, students are able work on real cases, transactions or projects for academic credit supervised by experienced faculty members.

During their time in the clinical law program, students may advocate for clients in litigation; negotiate or mediate disputes; advise entrepreneurs and companies; develop policy by drafting legislation and getting it enacted; comment on regulations or gather information; write reports for legislative bodies; and more.

The law school’s enduring commitment to creating impact throughout Washington underpins students’ work throughout the year. By participating in clinical law and taking the oath last week, this year’s students took a critical step toward becoming the next generation of practice-ready, ethically sound lawyers.

“It is so important to know that you don’t know everything, but know that you will do everything in your power to learn,” Yu said. “I promise you this will make you a better lawyer at the end of the day.”

Learn more about Experiential Learning at UW Law