The Path to Becoming a First Amendment Advocate

By Natalie Seales, Free Speech Clinic Alumnus

Photo courtesy of Natalie Seales

I applied for the free speech clinic because of my interest in the First Amendment and its relevance in present-day discourse. I find the issues fascinating, and I strongly believe that the health and preservation of our republic depend on a thriving First Amendment. I also wanted to be involved in real cases rather than just read about them.

As such, the Clinic offers amazing opportunities to work on real cases regarding pressing issues. While normal law school classes are valuable, getting hands-on experience with drafting legal documents—especially when the subject matter is so riveting and impactful—is a pivotal experience. On top of that, there are amazing guest speakers who are experts in the First Amendment. My personal favorite was getting to hear from and ask questions to Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker v. Des Moines —a case I spent a lot of time working on for LRWA [Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis class]. It was really neat seeing the face behind the name in the casebook and hear about her personal experience with the case and how it impacted her.

My hope is to pursue a career in First Amendment law, so the Clinic has been an amazing opportunity to give real-life experience coupled with learning opportunities. I am starting my career as the First Amendment Law and Policy Fellow at News Media Alliance, the company I have been an intern at since my second year of law school. In that role, I will work on First Amendment free press issues in both the law and policy. The Clinic also renewed my interest in litigation, and I hope to be involved in litigation in the future.

Overall, the Clinic allowed me to broaden my First Amendment knowledge with every class while simultaneously completing challenging projects, giving me valuable experience that I will carry with me throughout my career.