Where else would you get that kind of experience? You learn to think as a lawyer. It’s a profound experience.”
Tarah Baldwin’s time as a student at Robert H. McKinney School of Law has taken her many places. She has been part of the award-winning IU-Student Outreach Clinic, Indiana Legal Services’ Senior Law Project, the Indiana House of Representatives and the Marion County Public Defenders Agency. She has interned for several Indianapolis law firms and worked as a paralegal.
Through it all, Baldwin has impressed those around her. She earned the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award last fall for her more than 500 hours of pro bono service to people in the community (Tarah is pictured, right, with her award).
“It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn about varying kinds of law, all types of cases,” said Baldwin, who is on track to graduate from the law school in 2015.
Baldwin also learned about a variety of topics as an undergraduate student at IUPUI, where she followed an individualized major program to get into law school. She considers individualized majors to be great preparation.
“It isn’t for everybody, but it can help you be the student you want to be,” she said.
Baldwin’s professional experience and her work in clinics and programs like the Student Outreach Clinic and the Senior Law Projects have her focused on elder law and criminal law as career opportunities.
“In both areas, I worked with people who are vulnerable, and I like seeing that procedures are followed and rules and laws are obeyed,” she said. “I like being an advocate for those who don’t always have a voice. I like to hear their stories and help them solve their problems.”
Being connected to the Indianapolis community has been different for someone who has lived in so many places growing up, moving all over the country for her father’s business career.
Baldwin said being the “new kid on the block” on a regular basis has helped her adjust to the demands of law school.
Working hands-on is one reason why she became a paralegal; she wanted to build a foundation for studying the law. Clinical work offered the same opportunities.
“McKinney has clinics that allow you to take on real cases, prepare strategies, everything you’d do as a lawyer,” Baldwin said. In McKinney’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic, for example, she’s handling the case of a man she believes was wrongfully convicted, and who has spent 23 years in prison.
“Where else would you get that kind of experience?” she asked. “You learn to think as a lawyer. It’s a profound experience.”
Baldwin said she is determined to make her time in the Wrongful Conviction Clinic and the Public Defender’s Agency count by helping people -- especially youngsters and the elderly -- avoid people who would take advantage of them.